Employers implement vaccine mandates

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its two-year mark, some local employers are implementing requirements that workers be vaccinated as part of their terms of employment.

Barnes-Kasson CEO Sara Adornato said the hospital has instituted a COVID-19 vaccination mandate that is in line with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirement for health care facilities to “require staff vaccinations as a condition of participation in the Medicare & Medicaid programs.”

She said all staff, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of their first completed COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 4 at 3 p.m., and completed vaccination documentation by Jan. 3, 2022, at 3 p.m. “Facility staff may apply for a medical or religious exemption,” Adornato explained.

“We had about 75% vaccinated prior to the mandate.  The mandate has helped move the remaining staff towards vaccination,” Adornato said. “With approved exemptions, we should have very few staff members that choose to leave employment due to the mandate.”

The Susquehanna County Historical Society & Free Library Association board of directors have also declared their intent to institute a policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for its 26 employees, said Joni Kaiser, Library Administrator. The policy was set to go into effect on Dec. 15 but is currently being reviewed by an attorney and – based on those recommendations – will likely be acted on by the board at the December meeting.

Kaiser said that, of the 26 employees, there are currently three people that would be affected by a COVID-19 vaccination policy. It would not, however, apply to volunteers, she said.

“Susquehanna County (COVID-19) infection rates are so high,” Kaiser said, adding, “The association attracts of two most vulnerable populations – the elderly and children.” She said the policy would help protect library association staff, volunteers and patrons. She also noted the association has suggested the wearing of facemasks when in a library buildings and said most volunteers and patrons comply.

In Susquehanna County, 15,381 residents are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, with 3,830 receiving an additional dose since Aug. 13; 1,840 are partially vaccinated. Data from the New York Times and Our World in Data show there has been 409 cases of COVID-19 reported in the county between Nov. 16-29.


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