With the Delta variant surging and the region’s hospital systems at or beyond capacity, Chair Deborah Kafoury today announced that all Multnomah County employees will be required to obtain a vaccine for COVID-19.
Chair Kafoury said the County is complying with the state’s new requirement that all healthcare personnel be vaccinated while extending that requirement to include the rest of the County’s more than 6,000 employees.
“With a fully vaccinated workforce, we can better protect ourselves, our co-workers, our clients and our community,’’ Chair Kafoury said in an email to all employees Friday, Aug. 20. “We also model for other organizations and businesses the path to a healthier community.”
Vaccines are safe, free and highly effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization. All states, including Oregon, have long had vaccine requirements for children to attend K-12 schools.
In making the requirement, the County also joins an increasing number of public and private employers mandating COVID-19 vaccines: among them, the federal government, the states of Washington, California and Hawaii, more than 600 colleges and universities, Tyson Foods, United Airlines, and Disney.
On Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown updated her previously announced requirement for all healthcare personnel in Oregon to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September. The State will now also require teachers, educators, support staff and volunteers in K-12 schools to be fully vaccinated. She has set a deadline for both groups of Oct. 18, 2021, or six weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants full approval for the vaccines — whichever is later. Multnomah County intends to implement and meet this requirement by the deadline set by the governor.
If an employee will not comply with the rule and does not submit an approved exemption request, the County will provide them with a notice of layoff. An employee who changes their mind and receives a vaccine may have their layoff notice rescinded.
Exemptions to this mandate may be available based on approved medical conditions, the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) or a sincerely held religious belief.
“Our community depends on Multnomah County employees,’’ said Chair Kafoury. “As the largest local safety net provider in the state, we need to assure our workforce is able to show up and safely serve the people of this community.’’