No vaccine mandate for state health department, spokeswoman says

By: - August 5, 2021 12:40 am

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

The Ohio Department of Health will not require its employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to return to the office, a spokeswoman said this week.

Some employees are already working on-site at the department, mostly on hybrid schedules. More employees and departments will be “gradually phased in” to working on site, according to department spokeswoman Alicia Shoults.

She didn’t respond when asked what percentage of its employees are vaccinated.

Late last month, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring all federal government employees and on-site contractors to attest to their vaccination status. All unvaccinated employees must wear a mask on the job, regardless of their location and distance from other employees and visitors. They must also comply with a weekly testing regimen and be subject to restrictions on official travel.

There’s no apparent evidence of this trickling down to the state level, for now.

“We have not heard of any plans to mandate vaccines in any state agency,” said Chris Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.

He declined to take any position on any potential mandate.

“If agencies start to establish vaccine policies, our union will be asserting our rights at the bargaining table to make sure our members are treated fairly,” he said.

While no mandate exists for now, Gov. Mike DeWine announced last week that all state employees who receive a COVID-19 vaccination are eligible for a $100 incentive, plus $25 for their spouses.

Some businesses like the National Football League or MGM Resorts International and universities around the U.S. are requiring vaccination against COVID-19 for employees and students.

Less than 50% of the state has been vaccinated against COVID-19 after more than seven months of availability, according to ODH data.



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Jake Zuckerman
Jake Zuckerman

Jake Zuckerman is a statehouse reporter. He spent three years chronicling the West Virginia Legislature for The Charleston Gazette-Mail after covering cops and courts for The Northern Virginia Daily.