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Will Cincinnati companies begin requiring the COVID-19 vaccine?

WCPO vaccination .png
Posted at 5:40 PM, Jul 29, 2021

The federal government will begin requiring its employees to get their COVID-19 vaccines or meet strict health and safety requirements, President Joe Biden announced Thursday afternoon. Some private companies will follow Washington's lead — but how many? And which ones?

“I’m not going to ask for anybody’s vaccination passport,” said Cincinnati business owner Zachary Haines, who runs the procurement company DPA Buying Group, a few hours before Biden announced his decision. “The vaccine decision should be between an individual and their doctor, especially ones that are not FDA approved."

But Mercy Health chief medical officer Dr. Stephen Feagins is certain his own workplace will begin requiring the COVID-19 shot. It's not an if question, for him. It's a when.

”When you talk about health care workers who don't have the vaccine, I’m like, ‘Why not? What if we require it, which we will eventually?'" he said. "And they’re like, ‘Okay. I’ll get it then, because then it’s required.'"

Feagins believes vaccine requirements could help the Tri-State avoid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the fall, he added.

UC Health spokesperson Amanda Nageleisen said her hospital system requires vaccinations for some diseases like influenza and hepatitis, but the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory.

“However, we strongly encourage employees to receive vaccination against COVID-19, and the majority of our workforce has chosen to do so," she said. "The safety of our staff, patients, families and communities is our highest concern, and we’ll continue to evaluate our policies as needed.”

Vaccination also remains voluntary at Procter & Gamble, according to a statement provided by the company.

“As of today, vaccinations are voluntary, though highly encouraged," a spokesperson wrote. "We will continue to adapt our approach based on new scientific guidelines and medical findings. We do still require masks in high-traffic areas such as hallways, lobbies, elevators, and restrooms and the like, when distancing is not possible or practical.”

Kroger, which offered a $100 incentive for employees to get vaccinated earlier in the year, did not respond to a request for comment on its COVID-19 vaccination policy.

WCPO covers eight Ohio counties: Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren. Between them, the Ohio Department of Health shows vaccination rates ranging from 50.57% to less than 25%.

The U.S. does provide a tax credit to offset costs for employers to provide paid time off for employees to get the vaccine and recover from any symptom.