Osego County’s Board of Representatives will consider a resolution asking state officials to focus on promoting a coronavirus vaccine and encouraging its residents to get vaccinated.
The resolution unanimously passed the board’s Health and Education Committee, during a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12. Although the committee has mostly Democratic Party members, the motion was seconded and voted for by Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens, Otego.
Committee Chair Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-town of Oneonta, said he thought the measure would have broad support among the full board when it comes to a vote Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Stammel said the measure was needed because Otsego County is a tourism area and it needs to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. He said he thinks the county needs to reach herd immunity, with about 70% of adults being vaccinated, before life can begin to get back to normal, or to a new normal.
He said the resolution is directed to Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, and State Sen. Peter Oberacker Jr., R-Maryland, because of Salka’s proposal to allow people to opt out of receiving vaccines. Oberacker has signaled his support for Salka’s measure.
Stammel said he wants the two men to focus their energies on reassuring residents a vaccine is safe and necessary rather than spreading fears about it.
“The purpose of the resolution is to urge our state legislators to focus their time and energies on legislation that promotes the maximum rate of vaccination for our local population and supports increasing resources for testing, tracing and vaccinations,” he said. “Current efforts by our state legislators to promote an unnecessary ‘opt-out’ will only raise questions about vaccinations.
“These efforts are misguided and the timing cannot be worse,” he continued. “Their messaging could undermine this vital initiative that we are relying on to restore our public health and local economy.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, several committee members said if Salka feels that protecting conscientious objectors to the vaccine is important, they would be willing to revisit the matter with him at a later date.
They said that in the meantime, they hope the state officials would help them prioritize advocating for a thorough, effective rollout of the vaccine and tamping down public fears about receiving it.
Because of the pandemic, the county’s meetings are held via Zoom and are broadcast available for viewing on the county’s Facebook page.
Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7218.