Wynne Lacey’s position on the Oak Park Board of Health became a source of controversy last winter because of her beliefs about vaccinations. Her decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, despite being eligible, and her comparisons of mitigation measures to punishments have drawn much criticism, with many calling for her to leave the volunteer commission.
Lacey, it seems, has since done so.
In an email sent April 23 to the health staff liaison board, Lacy said he would not be participating in future committee meetings. The Wednesday Journal obtained the email through the Freedom of Information Act.
“I will no longer be attending Board of Health meetings as a volunteer,” Lacey wrote. “I spoke to the president [Vicki] Scaman to let her know. Good luck!
Lacey’s quiet departure is in direct contrast to how she very vocally shared her beliefs just a few months ago.
The short email – just three sentences – was sent just three days before the health board meeting in April. Lacey, who was absent from the commission’s March meeting, made her last health board meeting on Feb. 22.
It is unclear whether Lacey’s decision to withdraw was influenced or independent of public criticism of her views on vaccinations. She did not respond to requests for comment. Lacey has previously stated that she does not consider herself anti-vaxxer.
Although she was notified of Lacy’s decision, Scaman told the Wednesday Journal that she did not know if the criticism was the reason for her departure. Scaman said she had previously spoken with Lacey “multiple times” to “better understand her perspective,” but that Lacey never spoke specifically about the criticism she faced.
“I’ve talked to her numerous times,” Scaman said. “And the last thing she could possibly mean [in the email]is that she did not think she would be effective on the board of health.
Lacy, according to Scaman, wants to see greater value in “differences of opinion.”
“She just didn’t think her opinion would be respected among her peers,” the village president said.
Lacey’s views on vaccinations are in direct conflict with the Oak Park Department of Public Health, which considers vaccinations to be a primary function of public health.
“There shouldn’t be a difference of opinion about vaccinations,” Oak Park Public Health Director Chappell-McGruder previously told the Wednesday Journal.
In a recent interview, Chappell-McGruder did not share her thoughts on Lacy’s departure, saying only that the health department values all of its volunteers.
Lacey, however, is technically still a commissioner on the board of health because her April 23 email is not considered an official resignation letter. As for why Lacey’s resignation hasn’t been officially announced after so many months, Trustee Susan Buchanan offered some speculation.
“From the village’s perspective, I’m speculating that they decided not to pursue him because the important thing is that she doesn’t participate in meetings so she can’t spread lies about COVID and the vaccine,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan is one of Lacey’s biggest critics. In addition to serving as liaison to the Board of Health Trustees, Buchanan is an occupational health physician and faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Her views have not softened since Lacy stepped down.
“I would prefer a formal resignation, so [Lacey] he can no longer attend meetings,” she said.
Village staff are now working to make Lacey’s resignation official, according to Scaman, so a replacement can be appointed to the board of health. Citizens must apply to be considered for participation on one of the village’s committees.
The Village Board receives final approval to appoint citizen candidates to committees, but candidates must first be interviewed by the Citizen Involvement Commission.
When asked if the village board would fill Lacy’s vacancy with someone who supports vaccination as a central tenet of public health, Scaman said he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for someone to be on the board of health if they don’t follow the guidelines of the Illinois Department of Public Health. health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the country now facing a monkeypox outbreak amid COVID-19, Buchanan has taken a harder line on anti-vaccination rhetoric.
“There is no place on the Oak Park Board of Health for lies and misinformation about infectious diseases or any health issue for that matter.”