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Mon Commission weighing mandatory vaccination for county employees

MORGANTOWN -— Members of the Monongalia County Commission said Wednesday that the body is considering mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for county employees. 

This comes one week after the commission approved a vaccination policy that stipulated unvaccinated employees must use sick or annual leave, or otherwise go unpaid, if they must be off due to the virus. 

Earlier this week, on Aug. 23, the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, eliminating any concern over whether an employer could mandate a vaccine being administered under emergency authorization. 

That same day, WVU Medicine and Mon Health System announced they would require employee vaccinations. The commission is reviewing the policies put in place by both hospital systems. 

“We have a draft already, which we’ve shared with our attorney. The main feedback was that the emergency authorization would be a sticking block. Now that the sticking block is gone,” Commission President Sean Sikora said. “We’re going to take a look at it.”

Mon Health System President and CEO David Goldberg was on hand to address the hospitals’ decisions to mandate vaccines with the commission. He noted that the move to mandate was in line with guidance put forward by the West Virginia Hospital Associations.

Further, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have said an employer can make vaccination a condition of employment.

“We do know there’s some consternation from some. We had a town hall at 7:30 this morning with our staff. We had 400 people register to talk. We’re doing another one this evening. We’re doing town halls. We are doing meetings one-on-one,” Goldberg said. “My doctors are 95% vaccinated. I think that speaks volumes. If the doctors are, why not the rest of us?”

While the commission has not settled on any particular course of action, Commissioner Tom Bloom said one potential option could be weekly tests for the unvaccinated, at each unvaccinated employee’s expense.

“That’s an option that could be considered,” Bloom said. “We have to get our employees vaccinated, and we have to get our community vaccinated.”

County Administrator Rennetta McClure said there are roughly 360 full and part-time county employees. She estimated that 25% remain unvaccinated.

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