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Lane County commissioner says vaccine mandate may contribute to structural racism

County employees who aren’t fully vaccinated by Nov. 30 or provide a qualifying exemption will be laid off indefinitely.

Posted: Oct 12, 2021 11:49 AM
Updated: Oct 13, 2021 3:00 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A Lane County commissioner is calling for the delay or cancelation of a vaccine mandate for county employees, suggesting it may be a form of structural racism.

Commissioner Jay Bozievich told fellow commissioners during a board meeting Tuesday he would like the vaccine mandate for county employees to be canceled or delayed.

“We really need to seriously think about …whether or not an employee vaccine mandate is going to have disproportionate impact on minorities, causing them to lose their employment - and under current state policy - lose their unemployment,” Bozievich said.

Bozievich also said he’s pro-vaccination and is vaccinated himself, but he says the mandate for county employees isn’t fair to minority communities, who have lower rates of vaccination.

RELATED: LANE COUNTY ANNOUNCES VACCINATION REQUIREMENT FOR EMPLOYEES

His request to cancel the mandate came right after a report from county health officials, who confirmed that vaccinations among minority groups continue to lag behind white populations.

“There is a historic distrust by these populations of our medical field, no matter how you look at it, and that disproportionality probably is also reflected in our employee population,” Bozievich said. “I would propose that we need to at the very least delay implementation, and probably would be best if we just eliminated the policy in general.”

County employees who aren’t fully vaccinated by Nov. 30 or don't provide a qualifying exemption will be laid off indefinitely. Law enforcement officers are not subject to the policy due to state law. There are about 1,700 Lane County Government employees.

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