MASON – Ingham County is considering a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for its employees, but some workers are not happy about it.
The Board of Commissioners County Services Committee on Tuesday unveiled the policy that, if passed, would require all county’s employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Employees can request an exemption due to a disability, medical condition, or religious reason, but must then undergo weekly negative COVID-19 tests.
The district must first examine the proposal with its collective bargaining units. The draft directive requires the county to obtain the consent of unions before affecting their members.
“I fully support the vaccination policy. I think it takes a little fine-tuning, ”said D-Lansing’s Ryan Sebolt. He said the county will need the consent of its employees, and getting this through the collective bargaining units is the most effective way for a policy to succeed.
Commissioner Robin Naeyaert, R-Mason, said she had concerns about a mandate and wanted to hear what the collective bargaining units and their members have to say.
Ingham County has around 1,400 employees, including seasonal and part-time workers, and about 80% of them are represented by unions, said controller Gregg Todd.
Ingham County has 21 active collective agreements with groups representing sheriff’s deputies, 911 employees, zoo workers, street workers and nurses, according to Human Resources.
About a dozen county employees criticized the commissioners’ move to request vaccines during the committee meeting on Tuesday evening.
Krystal Davis said she disagreed with the mandate, thinking the county should instead incentivize people who choose to get vaccinated.
“Our choice shouldn’t be taken from us,” she said.
More:Ingham County would pay $ 200 to newly vaccinated residents if proposed to commissioners
Erin Gallaway said Ingham County should trust its employees and not force anyone to get vaccinated. Ingham County has always trusted its employees when it comes to their health and now shouldn’t be an exception, she said.
“The mandatory shot is bad for morale,” she said.
Several people who spoke during the meeting raised concerns that unvaccinated workers could be discriminated against.
Lisa Watts said she supports the proposed mandate and appreciates those who have already been vaccinated to protect people who are susceptible to COVID-19.
The potential need for the directive is for Ingham County’s vaccination rates to lag and new cases of COVID-19 to keep rising, Todd said. The county wants to make sure its employees are safe and this can be done either through vaccinations or testing, he said.
The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of its residents to achieve herd immunity. The percentage of the vaccinated population is 61.3% in Ingham County, 60.5% in Eaton County, 62.9% in Clinton County, and 64.8% nationwide, according to the latest figures from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
If the proposal is passed, Ingham County could be the first Michigan city government to mandate vaccines for its employees. Michigan State University and the Lansing School District recently introduced their own vaccination or testing requirements.
More:Lansing School District calls for vaccines for teachers and staff this fall
Todd said schools, colleges and universities are moving to mandatory vaccinations, but local governments have not taken that step.
“If that happened, or if it went through, we’d probably be the first in the state,” said Todd.
Contact reporter Craig Lyons at 517-377-1047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @craigalyons.