Counties in the region will not need COVID-19 vaccine for government employees | Local News
All employees of the Allegheny County government executive will soon need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but don’t expect neighboring counties to follow suit.
County manager Rich Fitzgerald announced on Wednesday that workers under his leadership will either need to be fully immunized by December 1 or face dismissal, although the order does not include other employees, such as those who work in the courthouse.
“As we continue to see cases of COVID in our county and different populations are affected than before, it is even more important that our workforce is protected so that the public we serve is also protected,” Fitzgerald in a written statement. “This is the right thing for our county and our workforce. “
About 75% of all workers in the executive branch of the county government are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to county officials. The county began requiring that all new recruits be vaccinated starting in August.
While officials in the Fayette, Greene and Washington counties have said they are monitoring the situation, there are no plans to force a vaccine on their officials.
However, Washington County offered a half-day sickness “incentive” to anyone who could prove they were vaccinated, which officials said was to give workers time to get vaccinated. So far, 314 workers out of around 860 part-time and full-time employees have presented proof of vaccination, although county human resources manager Shelli Arnold said the number could be higher because they do not. are not required to show their status. But even with just 36% of the county’s workforce known to be vaccinated, there are no plans to impose it.
Commission chairperson Diana Irey Vaughan said they follow state and federal health guidelines and require unvaccinated workers to self-quarantine at home if they come in contact with a person being tested positive for COVID-19. If an unvaccinated employee is short on time, then that worker must use the county sick leave during their absence.
“They really work on the front lines and are with people every day,” said Irey Vaughan.
Although they do not require the vaccine, Irey Vaughan and fellow Commissioners Nick Sherman and Larry Maggi are trying to set an example for county employees by getting the vaccine themselves. Irey Vaughan and Sherman announced in April that they were getting the shot, while Maggi received his two doses last summer while participating in Pfizer’s clinical trial in Columbus, Ohio. Maggi said last week that he still had not received a booster shot while he remained in the trial.
“Choosing to get the vaccine for us was trying to set an example,” said Irey Vaughan, adding that she had also recently received a flu shot. “We have a very strong wellness program (in Washington County). My opinion, for me, was that the COVID vaccine was another step for well-being. “
Greene County Chief Clerk Jeff Marshall said there were no plans to require the vaccine for county employees, which would be a decision that would ultimately rest with the commissioners. Marshall added that county leaders do not “follow” employee vaccination statuses, or ask to see vaccination cards.
“We take a day-to-day assessment and see how things are going,” Marshall said. “They watch it daily, but nothing is imminent.”
Greene County Commission Chairman Mike Belding said they recommend employees follow federal and state health guidelines, but they have no plans to go beyond since County No. does not have its own health service. If the guidelines from those agencies change, the county will notify its workers of the updated policies, he said.
“This has been our position from the start. We don’t have a health department in the county, so we refer them to the proper authorities (agencies) above us… and we leave it at that, ”Belding said.
The county does not expect to offer an incentive program for employees to get vaccinated, Belding said, as vaccines are now widely available. He declined to disclose if he had been vaccinated, preferring to keep this information private.
“The vaccine has been available for so long, I can’t imagine they didn’t have time to go get it. I don’t see an obligation to do it, ”Belding said. “They can make their own decisions. “
Belding’s counterpart in Fayette County Commission Chairman Dave Lohr agreed, saying there would be no tenure for government employees there.
“I am not going to mandate,” Lohr said while stressing that he was speaking for himself and not on behalf of the other two commissioners. “I think it’s each person’s choice (whether) to get vaccinated or not. It’s my opinion.”
Fayette County Human Resources Director Cristi Spiker reiterated this in an emailed statement, saying they will continue to follow federal rules as they currently stand.
“Federal vaccine mandates are being developed under OSHA,” Spiker said. “Local and state governments are not subject to OSHA regulations, so the county will not have to comply.”