Employees voice concerns over COVID-19 vaccine in Luzerne County

News

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — President Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees as well as federal employees is raising questions about whether the mandate could be expanded.

A Luzerne County council member is taking steps to prevent county employees from being forced to get vaccinated.

The proposal made by council member (R) Harry Haas has people talking, Haas says he’s not anti-vaccine he argues that he wants to make sure that no county employee can be forced to get a shot in the arm.

Luzerne County employs more than 1,500 people county officials estimate that more than half of them have already been vaccinated for COVID-19 Haas says he is trying to prevent those employees who are not vaccinated. For whatever their reasons from being coerced into getting the shot.

“This ordinance proposal is to protect county workers from being coerced into getting the vaccination if they don’t want it or they are being penalized if they are mandated and they refuse it,” said Hass.

The ordinance would add wording to the county personnel policy that he argues in his words protect those employees who don’t want to get vaccinated.

Carbon County’s Response

“Carbon County does not have a Mandated Vaccine Policy, nor are we considering one. We feel that it is up to the employees to decide if they should get a vaccine. It would be extremely difficult to mandate and enforce vaccine or a face mask policy. Sorry, but we no longer have masks required signs on our doors.”

Wayne Nothstein
Carbon County Commissioner

“Look I’m not anti-vax, it’s a wonderful thing if you have a health condition, if you are elderly, I think it’s very appropriate,” said Hass.

But Hass argues that he doesn’t want his staff’s liberties to be violated.

“I really want to make sure that we don’t have an overreach from the Federal government or State government that violates in my opinion our personal liberty and violation of the United States Constitution,” said Hass.

” I appreciate Councilman Haas’s commitment to his beliefs but I think our focus really should be on encouraging everyone to get vaccinated,” said Acting Luzerne County Manager Romilda Crocamo.

Crocamo says a vaccine mandate for employees is not on the radar at this point in time.

“I have no immediate plans to mandate that all county employees get vaccinated and or those who are not vaccinated require testing,” said Crocamo.

County council Chairman Tim McGinley says any potential future decision on a vaccine mandate for county employees could be influenced by the number of COVID-19 numbers locally moving forward.

“The pandemic is still well with us, unfortunately. I don’t think we know where we are going to be three to six months from now and we’ll have to deal with it at that point. We have to consider all those factors though employees guests who visit the courthouse for everyone who’s involved,” said Tim McGinley (D) Luzerne County Council Chairman.

Eyewitness News spoke to several county employees who did not want to appear on camera and had mixed opinions on any possible vaccine mandate. Some say they were already vaccinated so it’s not an issue. While others who were not vaccinated say they are not necessarily opposed to being vaccinated but they want the choice to be there’s and not any governmental entity.

Lackawanna County’s Response

“Lackawanna County is currently working on updating its employee vaccination policy. This is a very sensitive personnel matter that we are taking our time with to make certain everything is covered. We are not yet ready to roll it out to our staff; and when we are we will release it to the public and press, as well.”

Joe D’Arienzo
Lackawanna County Communications Director

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