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Raucous crowd packs County Council meeting, jeers council members

A raucous and impassioned crowd, along with a contentious issue, led to a highly animated St. Charles County Council meeting on Monday, June 8.

The meeting, the third council assembly held at the St. Peters Justice Center, promised more friction than usual county council meetings due to the highly charged nature of one issue. The so-called ShowMeVax Program [represented by Bill No. 4852 on the council’s agenda and backed the County Health Department] along with the Missouri Immunization Data Repository drew an unusually large crowd of spectators, the great majority of them opposed to the program.

Bill 4852 would create a Memorandum of Understanding with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services regarding participation in the state’s ShowMeVax program and would establish an immunization data repository. On May 27, St. Charles County Health Director Demetrius Cinaci-Chapman explained that the bill’s intent is to allow the St. Charles County Department of Public Health to make real-time, electronic queries and retrieve patient immunization records from the statewide immunization data repository. The language of the bill specifies that the memorandum will establish a safe and secured data communications mechanism for the St. Charles County Department of Health to transmit immunization records to the Missouri immunization data repository. Additionally, the bill states that the memorandum of understanding addresses the confidentiality of all data as required by applicable state and federal laws, including training of all staff involved in immunization data transmission and use of related confidentiality and privacy issues and safeguards to prevent unauthorized access to electronic immunization records.

Five speakers were allowed to speak for and against the measure, breaking from the council’s normal procedure of three and three.

The speakers against the bill, some of whom had severely criticized the measure at the council’s May 27 meeting, directed their line of attack against the idea of a state immunizations database and the county meekly acquiescing to this presumed abuse of power. Many of the critics argued that this would be only a first step, and that the ultimate intention would be mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, regardless of the wishes of individual citizens. Those speakers further argued that liberties are lost in this incremental fashion. One of the speakers noted that she had developed serious medical side effects from an unnecessary vaccination, and warned the assemblage of those dangers. The speakers against the measure were celebrated with bursts of applause, at the end of their appeals.

Later in the evening the council returned to Bill No. 4852. Council member Joe Brazil [District 2], who had staunchly opposed the bill on May 27, led the attack on the measure. Previously, he had said that the bill was a pet project of the pharmaceutical industry and that the end game was one of mandatory vaccinations for all Americans. He predicted that the industry stood to rake in a billion-dollar windfall.

Brazil continued that it was past time to dispense with mandatory requirements for those attending current council meetings. Such precautions include the wearing of face masks and red stickers, issued by the county health department, which signify that the person wearing it has undergone a health screening and temperature check. He described ShowMeVax as another example of “creeping government overreach” and urged the council to reject the measure. He also brought a number of physician acquaintances to speak against the proposed action.

Council member Joe Cronin [District 1] replied that some of the opposition was misplaced and overwrought. He noted that he had willingly submitted to many vaccinations when he went abroad as a foreign exchange student and had suffered no ill effects. He also noted that students are required to submit to vaccinations for polio, measles, hepatitis and other infectious diseases, and have been required to do so since 1963.

Brazil said students being required to have vaccinations negated the idea that vaccinations are ever truly “voluntary,” as the backers of Bill No. 4852 say that they are.

This portion of the meeting was punctuated by outbursts from the spectators. Council Chairman Terry Hollander [District 5] was forced to call for order a total of 15 times. He said he felt as though he had been transported in time back to his teaching career and an unruly American history class.

Ultimately, Brazil motioned that the bill should be tabled, so that a work session could be held to offer a full and complete understanding of the bill. However, his motion died due to the lack of a second. Council member Dave Hammond [District 4] proposed a vote, adding that he would be voting “no.” Hammond’s motion duly proceeded to a roll call with the measure passing by a vote of 5-2 in favor. Brazil and Hammond voted against the measure.

The council vote in favor of the ShowMeVax program was met by an audible rumble of dissent from the crowd, many of whom left the meeting at that point, saying: “We’ll remember this come election time,” “We’ll run against you next time,” and similar bluster.

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