Montgomery County prosecutor mandates COVID-19 vaccines for employees; politician disagrees

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The Montgomery County Prosecutor says he is mandating that his employees get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Montgomery County prosecutor told employees they are required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or face possible termination, a move that law experts say is allowed but a politician is calling controversial.

Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. sent an email to his staff on April 13 telling them that he is mandating vaccines to protect their safety and the safety of the public.

Mat Heck Jr.
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Mat Heck Jr.

“I have the responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all our staff, and ongoing concerns have been raised about some vaccinated employees being exposed to unvaccinated employees upon return to the office and the effect that may have on family members of our staff, including children too young to receive a COVID vaccine,” the prosecutor wrote. “Additionally, the interactions that our staff have with the public with which we come in contact, must also be considered. This virus is serious and has not gone away. Steps must be taken to protect those we work with on a daily basis.”

According to the prosecutor’s staff directory, the office has about 120 employees.

The issue is one that many private U.S. companies are debating. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made clear that employers can require vaccines as a condition of employment, Robert Harris, a partner in the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, previously told the Dayton Daily News.

ExploreYour company can make you get a COVID shot, but many won’t. Here’s why.

But even if it’s currently legal, not everyone agrees with the mandate.

“Montgomery County is part of 43rd District, and I can’t stand for this! This isn’t the America we need or want!” state Rep. Rodney Creech, R-Preble County, wrote on his Facebook page about the prosecutor’s mandate.

Ohio House Representative Rodney Creech
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Ohio House Representative Rodney Creech

Credit: Rodney Creech

Credit: Rodney Creech

Creech is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow an individual to decline the vaccine.

“Simply what it does, it just allows people to choose not to get the vaccine and not be discriminated against,” Creech said in a video explaining why he supports the bill. “There’s no reason we should be second-class citizens if we choose not to get the vaccine.”

Along with Creech, Bill Dean, who represents parts of Greene County and Clark County, and Nino Vitale, who represents Champaign County and parts of Shelby and Logan Counties, are also co-sponsoring the bill.

ExploreWATCH: Local business owner hopes employees get COVID-19 vaccine

The bill is currently being reviewed in a House committee.

Heck said the only exceptions that would allow an employee to not get the vaccine are if they have a qualifying disability or medical condition, which an employee must support with documentation, or a validated, sincerely held religious belief.

The email says employees are allowed to take time off to get the vaccine, must provide documentation proving they have been vaccinated and will receive an additional day of leave as a “thank you” when they get it.