Statement from Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich on County Employee Vaccine Mandates

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Statement from Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich on County Employee Vaccine Mandates

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021

Let me be clear - every person in Montgomery County and every employee of the Montgomery County government who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated. It is the right health-care decision for you, your family, friends, co-workers, and community.

Currently, 78 percent of our County workforce is vaccinated and 16 percent have yet to report their vaccination status. To put this vaccination rate in perspective, if our County workforce was a state, it would be in the top 10 in vaccination rates. But we can and should do better, which is why we are working with the remaining employees and their union representatives to get every employee vaccinated and to register their vaccination status with the County. We are also looking at anomalies in the reporting data, which may also explain some of the lack of reporting. We are fortunate in Montgomery County to have union leaders who also agree that vaccinations are critical to the health and safety of our workforce and the public. Just last month, the County Council supported my effort to create a mandatory testing requirement for all unvaccinated employees – a constructive and collaborative approach embraced by our unions.

Unfortunately, several County Council members now want to rip up this plan and upend the collaborative approach we have developed with our employees. The recently proposed legislation to mandate vaccinations or be terminated is unneeded. This brinkmanship legislation is not smart policy. It will lead to staffing shortages, diminished public safety, additional financial costs to our taxpayers, and time-consuming legal entanglements – all outcomes I have successfully worked with our employees to avoid since the beginning of the pandemic.  

Additionally, we know that there are activities that are high-risk – like eating indoors at restaurants – but the County has not mandated vaccination to address those high risks. To date, we have made a decision to focus our efforts on getting as many people vaccinated as possible and requiring masks when indoors in public spaces (except when eating or drinking).

It is hard to build enough trust to encourage any vaccine-hesitant employee to get vaccinated. Making threats and resorting to a “get a vaccine or else you’re fired in 40 days” policy is not the right approach considering the progress we have made in Montgomery County. Additionally, many of our employees served the community from the beginning of the pandemic when we didn’t have adequate protective equipment and when we knew so little about the virus. These employees put their lives – and the lives of their families at risk throughout this pandemic. We owe it to them and to ourselves to continue our current efforts. I encourage the County Council to table this legislation and work constructively with me, our employees, and our union partners on a solution that is right for our community.

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