County Implementing Vaccine Booster Mandate
Mandate applies to workers in high-risk settings like the jail or behavioral health.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley announced Wednesday the county would begin requiring booster shots for those working in “high-risk” county facilities.
This addition to the county’s vaccine mandate would cover all eligible employees, contractors and volunteers that work in the jail, House of Correction, Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center or the county’s behavioral health centers.
For those covered by the new mandate, they must receive their booster by Feb. 4, or 21 days after they become eligible. Anyone that is five months out from completing their Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna series, or two months from a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, is eligible for a booster.
In a statement announcing the new vaccine policy, Crowley said the county has achieved a high level of vaccination among its workforce. “As leaders in the effort to achieve race and health equity, we take seriously the health of our employees and our responsibility to help stop the community spread of the disease,” he said. In December, the county announced that 86% of employees subject to the mandate were fully vaccinated.
“However, as studies show, the initial vaccine’s protection against COVID-19 decreases over time,” he said. “Fortunately, a booster shot improves protection against COVID-19, including the Delta and Omicron variants.”
Beyond promoting the safety of county employees and the people they come in contact with, the new booster mandate is intended to “provide enhanced flexibility in managing the effects of COVID-19 on the County workforce,” according to the announcement.
“A COVID-19 booster means employees who provide critical, essential services are less likely to contract COVID-19 and if infected are less likely to have severe illness,” Crowley said.
Crowley and other elected officials have regularly emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine offers the best protection to county residents and is the best tool for fighting the ongoing pandemic.
As with the previous vaccine mandate, the county is implementing incentives and consequences for those that don’t comply. Employees that have received a booster will be eligible to enter a weekly drawing of $250.
Employees that do not follow the new mandate will be ineligible for voluntary overtime, risk recognition pay or premium pay. They could also face a suspension up to 10 days, and have non-compliance considered as a factor in promotions, hiring and salary adjustments.
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