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Aldermen approve COVID-19 vaccine policy for city employees

Employees of the City of Oxford will not be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Board of Aldermen.

During a special meeting called on Tuesday, the Board voted to not make the vaccine mandatory for all employees but did add an incentive for those who choose to receive it and may have to quarantine at some point.

Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill, along with the Aldermen, did not feel comfortable with forcing their employees to take the vaccination but rather give them the option.

“I am personally very opposed to mandatory vaccinations to all employees,” Tannehill said. “I think our employees should decide for themselves whether or not they would like to have the vaccination. I have talked with other mayors who have said that they plan to require it for their employees because they’re dealing with the public and feel like they should protect the public. I feel that is each employee’s, certainly, their personal desire.”

Employees who choose to receive the vaccination, but at some point test positive for COVID-19 or have to quarantine due to a family member with a positive test, must stay home for the recommended 14-day period by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those employees will receive paid administrative leave during that period and it will not take away from their accrued sick leave.

For employees who decide to not receive the vaccine, but test positive or must quarantine will still have to stay home for the 14-day period, but they will have to use their paid sick leave and not receive the paid administrative leave offered to the employees who are vaccinated.

“Our goal is not to make judgement against anyone who hasn’t had the vaccination,” Tannehill said. “But we do know that in order to get through this we’ve got to have herd immunity and that comes with vaccinations. So, we do hope it encourages some people.”

The approval of the policy was needed early this week as it was anticipated Governor Tate Reeves would announce the next phase of the vaccination rollout, which includes first responders. A few hours after the Board’s decision on the vaccination policy, Reeves announced those 65 and older and those 18 to 64 who have preexisting medical conditions are able to make an appointment for the vaccination.

Reeves pushed that group ahead of the phase that included first responders and teachers.

Lafayette County’s vaccination site is located at The National Guard Armory next to the Oxford Conference Center, where free drive-thru vaccinations are being provided to those eligible by appointment only. To make an appointment, visit covidvaccine.umc.edu or call (877) 978-6453.