Fairfax County exploring whether to mandate vaccines for government workers

In Virginia, Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors will decide in the next two weeks if it will require its 12,000 employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The urgency of the moment, looking at what’s happening to people who were unvaccinated, was really the driver for me to bring this up today and to say, ‘Look, we have to practice what we preach,'” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay told WTOP.

The board unanimously passed the motion directing the county executive to explore whether to issue a vaccine mandate for everyone from court clerks to accountants to parks employees.

He said it’s part of the job to serve and protect the community.

“We’re all public servants. That’s why we got involved in or [are] working in local government. And so our life choices can’t only be about us, they have to be also about our community … it’s about everyone that we intersect with now as we come back to work, it’s about our co-workers,” McKay told WTOP.

Less than 30% of the workforce is unvaccinated, he said. And while it’s not the majority, he said it’s part of the executive’s task to have a plan in place for those who choose not to get vaccinated or who cannot. The county will look into requiring masks and weekly testing for those who decide not to get their shots.

“For people who just don’t want to do it, I don’t find that acceptable. You know, I think every scientific measure demonstrates that our path to freedom and normalcy is dependent upon the percent of people who are vaccinated, and we’re seeing with the Delta variant that clearly showing itself in our nation right now,” he said of navigating personal preference in considering a mandate.

McKay has set a goal of getting the majority of the workforce back in the office by September.

“And so if you back off the full vaccination schedule from that, we want to give everyone an opportunity to still get fully vaccinated before that date, that decision from a calendar standpoint has to be made within the next two weeks,” McKay said.

Elsewhere, in Prince William County, County Executive Chris Martino said in a statement that he is working with his counterparts in other jurisdictions on issues such as whether to require vaccines for county government workers.

In Prince William, Martino said, such a mandate wouldn’t require action by the Board of County Supervisors.

“We have been, and continue to, carefully examine all issues related to COVID-19 and the workforce,” Martino said. “We want to ensure whatever decisions are made are done so with the considerations of what is best for our employees and our community.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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