WATCH: Huntsville leaders clarify COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Officials gave an update on COVID-19 in Madison County, as well as information on federal vaccine mandates Wednesday afternoon.

Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson said there were 50 COVID-19 positive inpatients in Madison County hospitals, with 16 in the ICU, and 10 on ventilators.

Across the county, Hudson said 62% of Madison County residents were fully vaccinated, compared to a statewide average of just 20%.

Ahead of another projected surge in cases, Hudson encouraged continued distancing, continued separation, and masking on a case-by-case basis.

Hudson reminded the public that the natural immunity from a COVID-19 infection is not long-lasting and that the vaccines are the only long-lasting sources of immunity.

Amid declining first shot rates, Hudson also encouraged those who haven’t gotten their COVID-19 vaccine to do so, along with reminding those who are already vaccinated to get their booster shot if they’re eligible.

Hudson concluded by saying the hospitals are open for elective procedures, encouraging those who need cancer or diabetes screenings, or other preventative care to get it and not wait.

PassionHR Senior HR Consultant Cindy Doty reiterated the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate that has stirred up controversy among north Alabama residents – workers have been protesting the mandate at ULA’s facility in Decatur.

According to Doty, the mandate applies to several groups of people:

  • Federal employees
  • Employees at federal contractors
  • Head Start teachers/staff
  • Staff at medical facilities who receive Medicare reimbursements

Doty added that the mandates contain limited exceptions for religious or medical reasons, not political or personal views, stating the companies PassionHR consults with have noted an increase in religious exemption requests.

The mandate, announced in September, also directed OSHA to develop a new, emergency, temporary standard requiring employers with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated, among other things.

The mandate requires employers to pay for time off to allow their employees to get their vaccine and recover from any possible side effects; however, employees who fall under only the OSHA standard and not the federal mandate can opt to be tested weekly for COVID-19 instead of being vaccinated.

As more companies implement such vaccination mandates, Doty cautioned that employees who refuse to vaccinate may be fired, lose their unemployment, and possibly be unable to find another job as employers make vaccination a condition of employment for new hires as well.

In order to be considered fully vaccinated by the Dec. 8 deadline, here’s when you need to get your shot if you fall under the mandate:

  • Pfizer: First dose – Nov. 3, Second dose – Nov. 24
  • Moderna: First dose – Oct. 27, Second dose – Nov. 24
  • Johnson & Johnson: Nov. 24

As a reminder, those who receive the vaccine are only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their last dose of Pfizer or Moderna or their single Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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