PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County employees will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Chair Deborah Kafoury announced Friday. The announcement comes as new COVID-19 cases rise and an increasing number of unvaccinated people overwhelm hospitals and ICUs across Oregon.
Kafoury said the county is complying with Gov. Kate Brown's vaccine mandate for health care workers and it will extend that requirement to include more than 6,000 county employees. She did not give a deadline for when employees must get vaccinated.
Employees may be able to opt out of the mandate if they get an approved medical or religious exemption.
"With a fully vaccinated workforce, we can better protect ourselves, our co-workers, our clients and our community," Kafoury said in an email to all employees on Aug. 20. "We also model for other organizations and businesses the path to a healthier community."
Kafoury said the mandate is part of a two-pronged strategy, which includes requiring face masks indoors to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
"Our community depends on Multnomah County employees," said Kafoury. "As the largest local safety net provider in the state, we need to assure our workforce is able to show up and safely serve the people of this community.’"
Thursday, Gov. Brown announced K-12 school staff and volunteers, and health care workers in Oregon must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 18 or six weeks after the vaccine gets full FDA approval. School staff, volunteers, and health care may be able to get an approved medical or religious exemption.