Vaccination deadline approaching for Montgomery County employees

Deadlines for many local county and state employees to show proof of vaccination are quickly approaching.

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D.C. has mandated that all District health, fire and EMS workers get vaccinated or face the possibility of losing their jobs. Officials in other jurisdictions, however, are more hesitant to mandate vaccinations.

In Montgomery County, employees must report their vaccination status, or face weekly tests.

On Thursday, 93.6% of the 67.8% of county employees who reported their vaccination status are fully vaccinated. But the county is still waiting on a little over 30% of employees to respond.

Officials in jurisdictions throughout the DMV are trying to decide whether or not to remove the weekly test option – and terminate or otherwise discipline unvaccinated employees.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser – along with the District’s Department of Health – has mandated vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including firefighters.

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Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich says he’s hesitant to go that far.

"That’s a really hard choice. You can’t afford to lose 10, 15, 20% of your workforce. I would struggle to put police on the streets for normal patrols, to enforce traffic laws. I would wind up having to force firefighters who got vaccinated to pull incredible shifts of overtime – those would not be good outcomes," Elrich said.

Of the nearly 52% of Montgomery County fire and rescue workers who reported their vaccination status ahead of Saturday’s deadline, 94.6% are fully vaccinated. Instead of removing the weekly testing option, Elrich says he thinks a vaccine passport might be more effective.

"We’re going to talk with the state directly with cooperating with us. We think this actually furthers the state’s goals because they put mandates in for when you should be vaccinated. It seems to us that this would further their goal of rewarding the vaccinated people," Elrich said.

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As for the healthcare worker vaccine mandate, several D.C. firefighters have spoken out against it – warning many would choose termination over vaccination.

The District says it’s still collecting data on the matter – but the deadline to have at least one dose of the vaccine is Sept. 30.