WARRENSBURG, Mo. – Megan Jaeger, a controversial new member of Johnson County’s Community Health board, pointed to a hive of bees buzzing near the back of her farm in Johnson County, Missouri.
“We use a horizontal hive so we don’t disturb the brood when we check the hive,” said Jaeger who moved from Springfield to Johnson County about three years ago with her husband and two children.
Since then, the family has embraced farming, raising much of what they eat and avoiding pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
“We wanted to control what we put in our bodies,” she said.
That includes vaccines, which Jaeger doesn’t believe are safe.
Her position makes her an anomaly on a health board whose primary goal is to make sure the public is vaccinated, particularly during a pandemic. Only about 25% of Johnson County is fully vaccinated, and the number of COVID-19 cases have been on the rise.
“I’m not anti-vaxx,” the mother of two said. “I’m pro safe vaccine and pro informed consent.”
But when asked, Jaeger couldn’t name a single vaccine that she considered safe, including the vaccines for COVID-19, which have been safely given to millions of people.
How did someone who questions the safety of vaccines get elected to a county health board?
“It’s an oddball election,” said Corky Burgin, who served two four-year terms on the five-member board.
Burgin said few people turn out to vote, and those running rarely face an opponent. That was until this last election in April when five candidates were vying for three seats.
Many of those running said they were infuriated by the mask mandate the board had implemented over the winter to try and combat the spread of COVID-19.
“Suddenly you had an impact on people’s lives, and they realized you existed,” said Burgin who lost her bid for a third term.
Jaeger’s presence on the health board hasn’t gone unnoticed in the college town of Warrensburg, particularly among the medical community.
“It is concerning,” said Dr. David Glover who has been practicing in Warrensburg for 40 years. “You know we are talking about a community health board, and to me vaccinations is one of the major things they do whether it’s polio vaccines or diphtheria or COVID.”
Glover spends much of his day encouraging both his patients and students at the University of Central Missouri to get the vaccine.
“What we are doing with the vaccines, we are not just protecting ourselves. We are protecting the person next to us,” Glover said. “We are protecting their relatives and people who are at risk.”
Glover said he wished those opposed to the vaccine would realize that getting vaccinated is actually patriotic.
“You know the Lee Greenwood song ‘God Bless America’? How many times have you heard ‘I’ll stand up next to you and protect you.’ Well, here’s our opportunity,” he said.
Jaeger, who recently voted against the county receiving $180,000 in state money to fund, among other things, vaccine clinics, insisted she loves America, too. That’s why she’s trying to protect people from a vaccine she doesn’t trust.