ROCKVILLE, Md. - Two Montgomery County councilmembers on Tuesday introduced legislation that would require all county employees to be vaccinated or face termination – despite having the highest vaccination rate in the country among large counties.
Will Jawando and Hans Reimer proposed the legislation in the wake of a rough survey released by the county a couple of weeks ago, indicating multiple first responder services – like police and fire – showed lower vaccination rates. Even the county’s Department of Transportation showed lower vaccination rates. This rough survey also depended on county employees actually self-reporting their vaccination status.
As of Tuesday, county data says 77% of the county’s work force is vaccinated, around 17% have yet to report their status and around 6% -- or 570 employees – have reported they are not vaccinated.
The bill would require that employees report proof that they are fully vaccinated within seven days of receiving county notification. Otherwise, they could face unpaid leave, where they’ll get one more chance to show proof of at least one shot – or likely face termination.
An employee can be exempted if the Montgomery County Office of Human Resources approves a medical accommodation.
"Just think it’s really important. Our public should not be interacting with any county worker and putting themselves at risk. Also want to keep our other employees safe so we’re considering it look at all the data," said Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando.
One Montgomery County man says his mother and several other of her colleagues would be forced to quit if the bill is passed.
"I don’t think it’s a good thing. My mom’s going to have to retire because of it. Well my mom has natural immunity. They don’t want to count that. She doesn’t want to get the vaccine," Victor Faustino, who told FOX 5 his mother works at a county high school.
Some labor union leaders are not pleased with the legislation - at least one says the legislation is merely pays lip service.
"Do you have any idea the of traumatic negative impact that will have on the delivery of critical services to our community?" said UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO leader Gino Renne, who feels the council would better serve the community focusing on what he says is a nurse-staffing crisis with Montgomery County’s Public Schools.
Renne, who represents some of these school health staff, argues there’s only 209 health room techs and 94 expected to manage student daily health needs in a schools system that serves around 163,000 students.
"I would recommend to the council, do your damn job and get the schools system resources," he told FOX 5 D.C.
Another woman asked about the county employee vaccine bill told FOX 5 she is for it.
"It’s your civic duty," she added.