Mon Commission taking another look at employee vaccination policy

·2 min read

Jan. 18—Fully vaccinated.

The definition of the phrase has changed over time.

When the Monongalia County Commission adopted its employee vaccination policy last August, it meant one or two shots, depending on the brand received.

Now it means initial vaccine, plus one booster.

Soon, it'll be two boosters—and so on into the foreseeable future.

When the commission meets on Wednesday, it'll consider updating its policy to explain "fully vaccinated " means whatever the CDC says it means at the time.

Commissioner Sean Sikora said the issue came to light when COVID took a number of the county's deputies off the road.

"We had a lot of them who were out sick because they caught COVID and they weren't fully vaccinated according to the new standard, which is two doses and a booster, " he said. "We're enforcing it to keep up with the times, because now, just having the two shots isn't good enough. [Employees ] need to be fully vaccinated."

Should the commission approve the policy change, any employee who isn't what the CDC would consider "fully vaccinated " must use sick or annual leave, or otherwise go unpaid, if they must be off due to the virus and cannot work from home.

Those who miss time despite being "fully vaccinated " per the CDC will be afforded administrative leave.

When the county initially passed its employee vaccine policy, it had a draft vaccine mandate in the works, similar to what the local hospitals had just announced.

A combination of pushback within the hospitals and a generous vaccine exemption policy from the state put the commission's mandate on hold at the time.

"Now you're seeing the mandates get a lot of pushback legally, so right now there's certainly not an appetite moving forward until we know what we can and can't do, " Sikora said.

Per the existing, and potentially updated, policy, employees must notify their department head or elected official when they are fully vaccinated.

"That will be kept between the employee and department head, but it will at least allow us to aggregate numbers at the county level, so we'll know where we're at, " Sikora said.