Wednesday, 08 September 2021 20:37

Rockingham, Hamlet, RCC offering vaccine incentives

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Interim Health Director Cheryl Speight administers a vaccine during a clinic in Dobbins Heights. Interim Health Director Cheryl Speight administers a vaccine during a clinic in Dobbins Heights. RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County’s two largest municipalities and the community college are offering financial incentives to employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.


Hamlet City Manager Matthew Christian told the RO in an email Wednesday that the city is offering $500, using federal funds, if workers get the vaccine.

Payments are expected to go out Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, Christian added.

While he did not answer the question Wednesday, Christian told the RO last week that there were no plans to make vaccines mandatory for city workers.

According to a memo dated Aug. 10 from Dr. Dale McInnis, Richmond Community College is offering a $250 vaccination bonus to all full-time and part-time employees.

“Many of you were vaccinated months ago, while others still may be deciding what to do,” McInnis said. “To recognize those that have been vaccinated and encourage others to take the first shot, we are putting our federal American Rescue Plan funds to good use.”

Documentation was supposed to be turned in by Sept. 2 for employees to receive the bonus in their September paychecks.

Wylie Bell, director of marketing and communications for the college, said Wednesday that there has “been no push to make it mandatory for employees to get vaccinated.”

Rockingham is offering a $150 incentive, according to City Manager Monty Crump.

County Manager Bryan Land did not respond to an email sent Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, Crump instituted a mandatory vaccination policy for Rockingham employees, giving them until Oct. 15 to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Any city worker not vaccinated by that date must provide weekly test results — on their own time and dime — to their department head and the human resources office.

Failure to comply with the policy “will lead to disciplinary action including termination.”

Crump said last week that about half of city employees were vaccinated, adding that some of those who were had “concerns” about working alongside those who weren’t.

He and Mayor Steve Morris also said that cases involving city employees have led to overtime and more financial costs for the government.

According to Crump, the mandatory vaccine policy is temporary and subject to change.

When asked if he was receiving any pushback from the policy, Crump said: “... I do not know what the situation will be until October 15 when the deadline is met. I am aware that ... many employees are getting vaccinated.”

However, police and firefighters are fighting back against the possibility of mandatory vaccines in the Queen City.

Multiple media outlets have reported that members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, Charlotte Firefighters Association and the UE150 Charlotte Chapter sent a letter to city leaders on Sept. 2 opposing a mandate.

“... Combined, our organizations represent, and speak for, thousands of workers in this city who rely on our advocacy. We understand how COVID has impacted Charlotte but believe all medical decisions shall be an individual choice.

Our organizations do support and encourage our respective members to get vaccinated. Each employee’s health and beliefs are unique and this vaccine should be a discussion between them and their medical provider, not elected officials.

Governmental agencies that impose mandates that go against individual beliefs and rights are dangerous and should not be permitted. Your employees have courageously fought through this pandemic and should not be faced with an uncertain future because of a vaccination mandate.

As the voice of your employees, do not mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Although no mandate is in place, media outlets report that the city is requiring employees to show proof of vaccination.

Governments across the nation are seeing pushback on vaccine mandates.

Most experts agree, however, that the policies are legal.

Mandatory policies, both public and private, also seem to be fueling the black market with the manufacturing of fake vaccine cards.

Three state troopers in Vermont are being investigated for making counterfeit cards, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

NPR reported last week that a woman in New Jersey, reportedly going by AntiVaxMomma on Instagram, sold phony cards to hundreds of people — including health care workers — for $200 each.

Fake cards were also reportedly sold by both a bar owner and naturopathic physician in Northern California.

Several media outlets, including WLOS in Asheville and IndyWeek, reported that North Carolina ranks No. 2 — behind Texas — in interest in fake vaccine cards.

With vaccine mandates on college campuses, students are also in the market for forged documents, WCNC reported in early August.

In an Aug. 26 opinion piece in the Burlington Times-News, Raj Ghoshal, an associate professor of sociology at Elon University, called for statewide mandatory vaccinations, required by both the public and private sector.

Ghoshal said the “need for action is clear.”

“COVID’s fourth wave is hitting unvaccinated adults hardest, but others are threatened too,” Ghoshal wrote. “Unvaccinated children are placed at risk when eligible adults in their community do not vaccinate. Mutations that reduce vaccines’ efficacy arise most often among unvaccinated people, risking everyone’s safety.”

While Ghoshal said those who choose not to vaccinate shouldn’t be forced, he added, “neither should they be allowed to access recreational venues where they endanger others, nor should employers be required to accommodate recklessness, at least until the crisis wanes.”

The day before Ghoshal’s piece was published, the Boston Globe ran a column from Fordham University political science professor Nicholas Tampio arguing against mandates.

“It is fine for governments to pay for vaccines and to promote them,” Tampio wrote. “It is another thing to deny constitutional rights to people who do not want to get a COVID-19 vaccine whose efficacy is not totally clear. … The United States can simultaneously address the pandemic and respect the rights of those who do not want a vaccine injection.”

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 September 2021 20:47