Graham Kilmer
MKE County

87% of County Employees Vaccinated

Excluding public safety workers. Vaccination rose 15% among county employees after mandate was instituted.

By - Dec 14th, 2021 02:47 pm

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Milwaukee County is reporting that 96% of its employees have received a COVID-19 vaccine or they have recieved, or are in the process of receiving, a vaccination exemption.

Currently, 87% of employees received a vaccine and 9% have received an exemption.

“Milwaukee County’s employee vaccination rate is encouraging and should be a signal to the broader community about how seriously we take the health and well-being of our employees and those we serve,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley in a statement

In September, Crowley announced an executive order creating a vaccine mandate for all county employees that are not members of a public safety union. This exemption pertains to Sheriff’s Deputies.

Racial equity and the county’s stated goal of becoming the healthiest county in Wisconsin were a consideration behind the vaccine mandate, the county executive said.

“Consequences of COVID-19 infection have an inequitable impact on vulnerable groups, including black and brown people who tend to be more at risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19,” Crowley said. “Preventing further harm to these communities was a primary consideration in establishing the vaccination mandate.”

Dr. Ben Weston, county chief health policy advisor, said, “Vaccine mandates work. COVID-19 vaccination is the key to strengthening the health of our community and moving us out of the pandemic.

While the county is close to 100% compliance with the mandate, Crowley said “the work is not done.” He added, “We continue to provide information and resources to remaining employees to encourage them to get vaccinated and we are also working to encourage eligible employees to get a booster.”

When the county first announced the mandate, Kelly McKone, director of organizational performance, said approximately 50% of county employees had already volunteered their vaccination status. They now know that approximately 72% of county employees were vaccinated when the mandate began, as only 15% of employees were vaccinated after the mandate was instituted, according to a spokesperson for the county. Currently, 87% of county employees have submitted proof of vaccine.

Now, only 104 employees that are subject to the mandate still haven’t provided proof of vaccination, the county executive said in a statement.

The mandate included a combination of incentives and penalties for county employees.

Incentives included up to 8 hours of paid time off and $50 cash. The county also offered a $25 payment to any employees who encouraged a co-worker to be vaccinated before Dec. 31.

Employees who do not comply with the mandate can face a 10 day unpaid suspension and it can prevent them from receiving a promotion, being hired into a new position or receiving a pay raise. If any employees are still unvaccinated after Dec. 31 and are enrolled in the county’s healthcare plan, they will incur a $20 pay period surcharge; Behavioral Health Division workers may be restricted from coming into work; and employees could be fired.

In a statement, Crowley said that five employees, so far, have been given a 10-day suspension. Data on consequences related to promotions and hiring was not available upon request because they occur at the department level, Crowley said. “Our office has tasked department leaders with making appropriate personnel decisions that take seriously the health and well-being of our employees and those we serve.”

Update: This story was updated to reflect that the mandate did not nearly double the vaccination rate; that corrections officers are not exempt from the mandate; that 96% of employees are in compliance with mandate, but not all are vaccinated.

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Categories: Health, MKE County

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