First responders in the region and some local law enforcement personnel who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 still have about a month before the state’s vaccination mandates begin on October 18 for some workers. from Oregon.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced in August that employees in the Oregon Executive Branch would be among those who need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. A full vaccination was also required since October 18 for health care providers and health workers.
“Staff were verbally encouraged to get the shot,” Medford Police Chief Scott Clauson said. “It’s an individual decision.
Medford Police employees are not required to be vaccinated. Clauson mentioned that the final decision on whether certain public safety employees should be vaccinated will likely be made in court.
A lawsuit, filed by the Fraternal Order of the Police, state soldiers from different parts of the state, including Central Point-based Private Cory Sweet and firefighters from Kingsley National Guard base Air Field in Klamath County names Brown and the state as defendants due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, argues the executive order is unenforceable and will only result in unjustified dismissals of employees who do not want to be vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.
The complaint indicates that Sweet has filed a waiver of the vaccine ordinance.
When it comes to COVID-19 requirements, Clauson said, changes are expected.
While law enforcement personnel are generally not required to be vaccinated, some Jackson County Sheriff’s Office employees working in the county jail fall under the warrant. But most will have already received COVID-19 injections by the Oct. 18 deadline, officials said.
The prison operates a medical facility where health care is provided to inmates, said Captain Josh Aldrich, who is in charge of the Bureau of Corrections at the Sheriff’s Office.
“Our commitment is to make sure that people leave in at least as good condition, if not better, than when they arrived,” said Aldrich.
Since the start of the pandemic, the prison has had a lower COVID-19 infection rate than the general community, noted Aldrich, when asked about how the facility is handling the virus.
The sheriff’s office has chosen employees who are vaccinated to work in the medical section of the prison, said Aaron Lewis, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office and first responders are looking to the Oregon Health Authority for advice on which employees should get vaccinated.
Members of the Medford Fire Department who will need to be vaccinated can get vaccinated at clinics offered by the service and Mercy Flights to ensure they are complying with the warrant.
Vaccination events are scheduled at times when fire station staff are nearing the end of their 48-hour shifts, allowing them to get back home in case they react badly to the vaccine, said MFD chief Eric Thompson.
Fire department employees work shifts of 48 hours on duty and 96 hours off, in most cases.
“We have planned strategically when it’s given,” explained Thompson. “People react to it differently. “
The service has 82 employees, 69 of whom work in the city’s fire stations. Only some of them have direct contact with patients, including those who provide emergency medical services such as emergency medical technicians.
“It’s been a very collaborative process,” Jackson County No. 5 Fire District Chief Charles Hanley said. “It’s about balancing personal rights with mandate.
Employees who are required to comply with the new rule can choose where to get their COVID-19 vaccine. They are compensated for the free time to get the snapshots – usually around an hour, he said.
Hanley said he does not plan for any of his team to leave or be asked to leave due to the vaccination mandate, but some are eligible for retirement, he added.
Contact reporter Terri Harber at [email protected] or 541-776-4468.