Milwaukee County's COVID-19 vaccine requirement reaches deadline

NOW: Milwaukee County’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement reaches deadline

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Friday, Oct. 1, is the official deadline for Milwaukee County employees to prove they’re vaccinated or give a valid exemption.

The requirement, shown on Milwaukee County's website, requires current and new employees to show proof of vaccination by Oct. 1.

County contractors are required to show vaccine proof by Oct. 11.

Milwaukee County’s Board of Supervisors originally announced the administrative order on Sept. 3. County Supervisor Ryan Clancy said it will keep employees safe.

"This is a matter of science, it's not a matter of opinion," Clancy said. "It's a matter of health and keeping us all safe."

Friday's deadline excludes unionized deputies and firefighters.

Individuals who don’t comply could face 10 days unpaid suspension, fines or potentially lose their jobs. Clancy said punishment is a last resort.

"We actually started with incentives, and there are additional incentives coming, and those are tied to vaccinated status," Clancy said. "So it's kind of both a carrot and a stick."

He said he is not concerned about potentially losing employees.

"What we're hoping this will do is attract more employees that want to feel safe at their jobs, and they know that the vaccine is the best way to do that. Keep themselves, their colleagues and the community safe at large."

CBS 58 asked County Executive David Crowley if the county can afford to lose employees amidst a labor shortage, and he said he would address the question Tuesday.

"Because today is the deadline, I want to be able to look at the data and see what's available after today," Crowley said.

Kirsten Johnson, Milwaukee's health commissioner, said in a meeting Thursday, Sept. 30, that vaccine mandates are proving to be effective across the country.

“I think it will have a positive impact on the number of people vaccinated working for the city of Milwaukee. I can only speak anecdotally about what we've experienced in the health department about staff members that have asked for an exemption and it's really just a handful, small number,” said Johnson. 

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