Yes, vaccinations should be required for County employees

Dear Resident,

President Biden and national health advisors are strongly urging employers to adopt vaccination requirements. They say requirements are a critical policy to make workplaces safe and finally get COVID under control.

Here in Montgomery County, we are discussing legislation I have introduced with Councilmembers Jawando and Albornoz to require County employees to get vaccinated as a condition of employment (with certain limited exemptions). MCPS already has the requirement, which their unions supported.

We introduced the law because we are concerned that the County Executive’s “vax or test” approach is too weak or ineffective.

Washington Post

“The truth is, mandates work, and the county’s vaccine-or-test policy has run its course. As the country passes 700,000 deaths from covid, squishy indulgence on the part of public officials is no longer responsible.”
Washington Post Editorial Board. October 4, 2021.

Unfortunately, County Executive Marc Elrich continues to oppose a strong vaccination requirement, as do the leaders of the employee unions for police, fire and county government workers. Yet as much as 30 or 40% of the employees in some departments have not reported their vaccination status.

Even worse, now we have learned that County employees who are not vaccinated have not been required to get tested, as the County Executive said they would. That is inexcusable.

In his comments opposing the requirement, Mr. Elrich is conjuring up worst-case scenarios of police or firefighter shortages. But he is leading in the wrong direction.

For example, in Denver, all employees were required to be vaccinated by September 30th. Since then, fewer than 1% of Denver employees have quit.

You’ve already seen how COVID has become the leading cause of death in the line of duty for police officers. Sadly the police union opposes requirements.

In my view, there is just no excuse for listening to vaccination opponents over the NIH, FDA and CDC. We should do what we know is right. Vaccinations save lives, they are safe, and they are how we will get past COVID-19. We should lead by example.

While the County Executive is working with the County government unions to block the mandate, I am hopeful that he’ll change his position.

You can send your comments in to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Sincerely,
Hans Riemer

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