Fighting vaccine mandates? Here??

Dear Resident,

This week I joined my colleagues Will Jawando and Gabriel Albornoz to introduce legislation mandating that County employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, unless they qualify for a documented medical exemption.

We need to take this step because the existing vaccination policy for County employees is not getting results. While County Executive Marc Elrich has come out against a mandate, he has also been bargaining for months with the County unions to promote vaccination.

The results speak for themselves.

As of September 30, 77.6% of County employees reported having at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to 98% of eligible County residents. Vaccination rates in some county departments are much lower, with the Department of Corrections and Fire and Rescue Services reporting only 63% of employees having gotten at least one dose.

This is simply unacceptable.

Getting vaccinated is one of our most powerful tools to contain the pandemic. Our employees who are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated deserve to know that their workplaces are safe.

Unfortunately, rather than working to persuade those who are hesitant or resistant in their ranks that this is a critical issue for all of our safety, County Executive Elrich and the employee unions have responded by attacking the Council for considering this step with over-the-top rhetoric, calling the proposed mandate “an outrageous intrusion.”

Headline from Bethesda Beat Story - council introduces vaccination mandate bill despite opposition from Elrich, unions

Meanwhile, similar mandates have already been implemented in MCPS, MNCPPC, and Montgomery College. President Biden has mandated vaccination for all federal employees and contractors, as have the States of Washington and Massachusetts and hundreds of private employers.

Recent news indicates that about 1% of employees have refused to get vaccinated at several large organizations that have implemented a mandate, resulting in suspension or termination for those employees. Vaccine mandates work! Too many politicians, however, are siding with that 1% by opposing mandates.

We are better than that here in Montgomery County.

Our County employees have been a front-line defense for our community as we have weathered this pandemic. It is unfortunate that our County Executive has chosen to attack this common sense plan rather than stand up for the vast majority of County employees and residents who want to do everything possible to finally be rid of this pandemic.

Nevertheless, I am hopeful that my Council colleagues will once again join together to overcome the County Executive to protect Montgomery County and move us forward.

Hans Riemer