Should employees be required to take COVID-19 vaccine?

Right now is the time for businesses and governments to have discussions on whether COVID-19 vaccinations will be required of their employees.

“As far as I know there are no federal or state mandates that state everybody has to take the vaccine. But as a business owner, that is a question I would encourage you to address,” said Boyle County Health Department Executive Director Brent Blevins during the fiscal court meeting on Tuesday.

“Something for all of you, and definitely at the courthouse, and all of your businesses, need to be thinking about … do you require your employees to have the vaccine in order to be able to work?”

Blevins said, “We do have some businesses that require the flu vaccination to be taken by their employees. This would be another vaccination that people need to go ahead and figure that out now so that when the vaccine is here, that it’s not a question.” Once the vaccine is available locally, innoculations can go much more quickly if everyone has already decided if they are mandatory or not.

“I know that a lot of people talk politically about that question, personal rights and all that. I get it. I just tell you I’m in on the vaccine. When it comes out, to me, that’s our best ticket we have out of the pandemic….”

After the meeting, Blevins said businesses need to “figure out internally … and make a policy legally in your company. I want to get people to talk to their legal teams and determine if it’s mandatory or not.”

Blevins said once the FDA approves the vaccine, probably sometime next week, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that 38,000 doses of Moderna is scheduled to arrive in Kentucky during the week of Dec. 20.

“I’m glad to get any vaccine, but Moderna is the one I’m really excited about,” because the storage and transportation is easier than the Pfizer which requires super cold storage temperatures, Blevins said.

Blevins said he will be responsible for getting the first round of vaccines to members of the Boyle EMS, Danville and Boyle fire departments and Danville Police Department, Boyle County Sheriff’s Office, and Boyle County Detention Center. Northpoint Training Center staff will probably be included in the second round of available vaccinations.

If everybody takes the vaccine, about 600 people will be inocullated, he said.

Blevins said CVS in Danville will be responsible for vaccinating the staff and residents of long-term care facilities in the county.

“We’ve already had some long-term care sign up with CVS so they’re on the list. They’re ready to go and are waiting on the doses to get in and CVS to start their process.”

“I will stay in touch with CVS just to make sure we’re moving down that path,” he added.

On Thursday, McDowell Place of Danville Executive Director Susan Matherly said she attended CVS’s webinar last week when the long-term care facilities were told what to expect and how the vaccination clinics would be held. She explained that  CVS would send pharmacy staff to the assisted living facility to administer the vaccinations and record all of the state and federal records.

She added that vaccinations will not be mandatory for either residents or staff. But if they chose to take the vaccine, McDowell Place would be responsible for collecting their consent forms.

Even though no one will required to take the vaccination, Matherly said, “We are encouraging all of them to have the vaccine,” because “the benefit outweighs the risks.”