2021 | Government

UPDATED: In survey, high vaccination rate among county employees, but many didn’t respond

County officials optimistic about progress, but say there’s more work to do

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This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. Sept. 14, 2021, to correct the deadline for when union employees must provide vaccination proof to the county. 

As of Monday, data from County Executive Marc Elrich’s administration shows that, out of the county employees who responded to a survey, more than 95% are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Of those employees that reported their status to the county, 95.2% have received both doses of Pfizer or Moderna or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

But the employees who reported that they are fully vaccinated represent 53.8% of more than 9,500 employees in more than 20 county offices or departments.

In a news briefing Tuesday, County Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz — the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee — said the high vaccination rate for those who responded is good. But he called on more county employees to get the vaccine.

“It’s important for us to lead by example here, particularly for our private sector. … While our vaccination rates across the entire county remain extraordinarily high, especially compared to the national average, there’s still more work to do,” Albornoz said.

The county is tracking vaccination rates among its employees because, according to an agreement with the police, fire and rescue, and labor unions, they soon must either agree to get vaccinated or be tested at least weekly for the coronavirus.

Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Elrich, wrote in an email that employees from the three unions have until Saturday to report their vaccination status to the county. 

Residents can provide proof through their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card or through Maryland’s immunization portal, MyIR, either in-person or online, Peterson wrote.

County officials are working to employees who might need assistance providing proof. 

“We are pleased with the vaccination numbers of those who reported early,” Peterson wrote. “Once we get the final numbers, we expect the vaccination rates of our employees to match our residents’ rates — the most vaccinated of any large jurisdiction in the nation.”

Albornoz said he knows that some county employees might have missed the email about providing proof of vaccination. He urged them to follow up.

“I think we’re going to have to continue to harp on this, and ensure that this receives the urgency that it deserves, because it’s among our highest priorities,” Albornoz said. 

Steve Bohnel can be reached steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com