By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: No voter-surprise with anti-vax stand

Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin anticipated quick action by the Yamhill County Commission when, on Oct. 7, she reported availability of an additional $68,700 in state funding for local public health services.

“Please place this amendment on the next Board agenda for approval,” she wrote. “Signed copies will be coming in a separate email.”

It was amendment #9 for the Oregon Health Authority agreement on funding and dictated service practices, adding $29,100 for immunization services, $25,200 for community participation and assurance of access, $12,000 for overdose prevention and $2,400 for tobacco prevention and education.

As usual, OHA required the county to “promote vaccinations to increase vaccine confidence” and “implement activities designed to raise immunization rates.” But this time, following their legacy as county commissioners, Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer bristled at the idea of state government mandating promotion of COVID-19 vaccines.

At one point, that annoyance overflowed the banks of common sense and reason, causing Starrett to ask, “Why doesn’t OHA just take it, and we could save ourselves a lot of money by just not having a public health agency?”

Then, in majority rule action, Starrett and Berschauer declined to sign the contract, while Commissioner Casey Kulla wondered aloud what programs may be discontinued if the county rejects these new funds and language in the amended state agreement.

On our website, one reader’s comment accused commissioners of “strangle-holding funds needed for public safety because they are anti-science.” Another subscriber bragged about not needing to read the story he/she knew it would be a newspaper attack on Berschauer and Starrett “because we think they’re crazy.” Yet another wrote, “This is money tied to pushing the Covid vax, especially to children, which is its own form of insanity.”

Perhaps the most rational reader comment observed: “Half of the people eligible to vote in the county toss their ballots in the trash anyway. This is what we get if you don’t vote.”

This is, after all, a democracy, and voter-surprise wasn’t an issue. In February, Randy Stapilus reported in the Oregon Capital Chronicle: “She (Starrett) and fellow Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer have called on the county health department to post messages discrediting the vaccines and promoting untested home remedies. The department refused, saying that would run against medical science.”

In March, Berschauer won her recall election 52-48; in May, Starrett was re-elected to office 52-48. Yamhill County voters, it appears, support anti-vax leadership at the top of their county government.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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