Montgomery County hearing on proposal that would require all employees be COVID-19 vaccinated

The Montgomery County Council got an earful at a public hearing Tuesday on a proposal that would require all county employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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FOX 5's Maureen Umeh reports that County Councilmembers Will Jawando and Hans Riemer have introduced legislation that would require all County employees be vaccinated.

But, Umeh reports, there is opposition especially in light of the County's already high vaccination rates.

The hearing was done through Zoom, but that didn't stop more than 50 demonstrators from packing the front of the council building, strongly opposing the vaccine mandate, FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald reports.

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If the bill passes, it would require county employees to report proof they are fully vaccinated within seven days of receiving notification from the County.

If not, the worker could be looking at "unpaid leave" and then possibly termination if they don't show proof of at least one shot or full vaccination.

The only exemption would be if Montgomery County's Office of Human Resources approves a medical accommodation -- otherwise, it's the same seven days to report.

Those who oppose the bill, including several labor unions, say this could have a devastating effect on County services. 

Staffers for County Executive Marc Elrich warned of mass firings of unvaccinated workers could lead to serious police and fire service issues.


"The county executive strongly believes that any personnel reductions reduces public safety coverage and puts our residents at unnecessary risk and should be avoided," says Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard.

But some council members say Elrich is in the wrong.

"I’m deeply disturbed that the county executive is resorting to scare tactics about the impacts of a vaccination requirement rather than standing strong as many mayors and governors are doing across the country," Montgomery County Council Member Hans Riemer says.

Some police officers who protested the mandate Tuesday say the bill isn't even needed since the County is already leading the nation in vaccination rates for larger counties.

READ MORE: Montgomery County rolls out COVID-19 testing campaign in schools

"I don’t think our jobs should be threatened for a medical decision, you know, if we don’t feel it’s best for our personal lives," Officer Daniel Garcia says.

"I’m ready to walk away after almost 20 years of service to this county that I’ve had," Officer Jose Zalia says.

"By standing up today, this isn’t just standing up for people who’re unvaccinated; it’s standing up for everybody," says Officer Mark Hugi.


Umeh says that of the 9500 employees -- about 13 percent have not reported their vaccination status – and eight percent say they aren't vaccinated.

A vote on the bill is not yet scheduled.