Milwaukee County to require COVID-19 booster vaccines at high-risk facilities

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County announced an update to its vaccine mandate Wednesday, Jan. 19, requiring booster vaccines for eligible employees, contractors and volunteers at high-risk facilities, including the Milwaukee County Jail, the House of Correction (HOC), Youth Detention Center and Behavioral Health hospital service.

“Milwaukee County has achieved a high level of vaccination throughout its workforce, particularly in high-risk facilities. As leaders in the effort to achieve race and health equity, we take seriously the health of our employees and our responsibility to help stop the community spread of the disease. However, as studies show, the initial vaccine’s protection against COVID-19 decreases over time,” said County Executive David Crowley. “Fortunately, a booster shot improves protection against COVID-19, including the Delta and Omicron variants.”

According to a news release, to be compliant with the updated mandate, employees, contractors and volunteers at high-risk facilities who are eligible for a booster shot (it has been five months since their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months since their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) must receive their booster dose by February 4, 2022, or 21 days after becoming eligible.

Mandating booster vaccine doses in high-risk facilities is not only about protecting the health and safety of employees, contractors, volunteers and those the County serves, it will also provide enhanced flexibility in managing the effects of COVID-19 on the County workforce.

“Milwaukee County is not unique in that it has felt the impact of COVID-19 on our workforce,” said County Executive Crowley. “A COVID-19 booster means employees who provide critical, essential services are less likely to contract COVID-19 and if infected are less likely to have severe illness.”

Employees who are noncompliant with the updated vaccine mandate will be ineligible for voluntary overtime or Risk Recognition Pay and / or Premium Pay Differential, when it is available. Additional department-level consequences might include:

  • Unpaid suspension for up to 10 days;
  • Consideration of non-compliance as a factor when making decisions about promotions, hiring current employees into new positions at the County, or temporary assignments to a higher classification; and/or
  • Consideration of non-compliance as a factor in departmental other salary adjustment allocations.

Mandated boosters do not apply to employees who have received an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

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