The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 1:00 am

Vaccine passport resolution fails

City Council vote 5-2; Arp hopes to revive it next meeting

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne City Council will vote on a resolution opposing vaccine passports in three weeks despite voting it down Tuesday.

The resolution states the council opposes “COVID-19 vaccination passports and any other similar governmental requirements that disenfranchises local citizens of the right to make their own health care choices and move freely within society.”

Jason Arp, R-4th, asked to hold the resolution until the next regular meeting due to the absences of Tom Didier, R-3rd, and Russ Jehl, R-2nd. Arp's request was denied due to “no” votes from Michelle Chambers, D-at large; Glynn Hines, D-at large; Sharon Tucker, D-6th; and Geoff Paddock, D-5th.

The Democratic members raised issues with the bill introduced by Arp two weeks ago. Chambers said the resolution was redundant to Indiana House Bill 1405, which deals with insurance matters but also includes language stopping local and state governments from mandating vaccine passports.

Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, said he agreed the resolution wasn't needed, but thinks the public deserves to know where elected officials stand.

Arp said he thinks the pandemic is ending based on recent state COVID-19 infection rates. He said he isn't letting his children get vaccinated, and he doesn't want them not to be able to do everything else children are doing at school or through other activities.

Arp said he doesn't see how a vaccine passport wouldn't be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the privacy of medical records.

Paddock said he wouldn't support the resolution even if the state law didn't already cover the topic because he wouldn't endorse something that would “prevent a business from making a public health policy that they felt was in their own best interest.”

Then Paddock used a phrase that was used by other members against the resolution throughout the discussion: “It's a solution in search of a problem.”

Tucker encouraged people to seek information on their own about the virus and the vaccine, and Chambers later said a lot of misleading statements and false information were shared during the discussion. Tucker added she has yet to see a mandate that would require vaccine passports anywhere.

Hines took a moment to list several other vaccinations that are required in public schools and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated.

Paul Ensley, R-1st, said he believes in science but believes scientists are also humans and make mistakes, citing Dr. Anthony Fauci first saying that people didn't need to wear masks before changing his recommendation.

Freistroffer said the discussion was supposed to be about the resolution – not whether the vaccine is good.

The vote in committee was 4-3 with Chambers, Paddock, Hines and Tucker voting against it. But when the resolution came up for a vote in the regular meeting, Arp voted against his own resolution for a 5-2 vote.

Arp said he wanted to ask the council to reconsider the resolution at the next regular meeting, which requires him to vote with the majority.

At the July 13 meeting, the resolution must get five or more votes before a final vote is conducted. City Council Attorney Joe Bonahoom said if the reconsideration is approved, the members are to conduct a final vote without any discussion.

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