Chelan Douglas Health Board Approves Budget, Language On COVID-19 Vaccines
The Chelan Douglas Health Board has passed a 2023 budget of $6.2 million, which included a 20 increase to environmental health fees approved separately by elected board members.
The district collects environmental health fees in relation to its programs focused on areas such as food safety, land development, water recreation and public schools.
The budget does not currently include federal American Rescue Plan money which will be used on capital improvement projects, and will be included once the project contracts are finalized in the two counties.
It's estimated the health district will have a reserve amount of $2.6 million at the end of 2023.
The board of health is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of both Chelan and Douglas counties. The board also oversees the the health district, including health permits for restaurants and other businesses.
Verbiage was also added to the minutes of Monday's meeting, stating "Chelan Douglas Health District encourages individuals to review and consider potential side effects of vaccines when making vaccine decisions as part of their informed consent process."
The inclusion of the language was proposed by board member and Douglas County Commissioner Dan Sutton.
Health District legal counsel Chuck Zimmerman said the verbiage was not stated in the meeting at any time, but was implied during conversations back and forth during the public comment portion of the board meeting.
People taking part in the public comment portion, as has been the case at all recent health board meetings, were heavily critical of COVID-19 vaccines in general and the vaccination process in the U.S.
The language was entered into the minutes of Monday's meeting with no objections.
Board member Bill Sullivan, a vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccines, said the statement is a small step in the right direction.
"If this health department is going to continue giving experimental vaccines that are proving to have substantial danger signals, if we're going to continue to fly in the face of that and provide the vaccine, then the very least we can do is provide informed consent," said Sullivan.
The statement will not be added to the consent form that people sign before receiving a COVID-19 shot.
Sullivan is an appointed member of the health board. He's a 49-year-old hydrogeologist from Wenatchee, who has consistently questioned the severity of COVID-19 infections and has called the vaccines experimental, and possibly hazardous.
Sutton said he proposed the statement as a way to start a conversation about personal choice and responsibility to make those choices.
"If we treat people like they are not intelligent enough to make informed choices, then we're just leading them by the nose as any other special interest group in on either side of the issue will try to do."
The statement will only be included in the minutes of Monday's health board meeting.
The Board continued it's business Monday by electing a new chairman and vice chair.
Douglas County Commissioner and board Vice Chair Marc Straub was elected Chairman, while board member and East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford was elected Vice Chair.
Outgoing Chairman and Chelan County Commissioner Kevib Overbay said he was happy to step down after two-and-a-half years leading the board.
Following the election, Sullivan once again brought up his central issue of reconsidering the health district's COVID-19 consent form.
Overbay said the board meeting had run 51 minutes over its scheduled time, but offered to further discussion of the issue to a vote of the board.
Newly elected Vice Chair Crawford then quickly mad a motion to adjourn the meeting.
Sullivan spoke for one more minute before the board voted 8-3 to adjourn the meeting. Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gering joined Sullivan in voting against adjournment.