Johnson County employees will be required to be vaccinated, or undergo weekly testing

Johnson County employees now must submit proof of vaccination by Dec. 13 under federal guidance requiring COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing.


Jerod Ringwald

The Johnson County Administration Building is seen in Iowa City on Monday, Aug. 1, 2021.

DI Staff

Johnson County employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 13 or undergo weekly testing, in accordance with federal policy requiring employers with more than 100 employees to adopt these requirements.

During the Johnson County Board of Supervisors formal meeting Thursday morning, the supervisors passed a resolution adopting these requirements, though supervisors disagreed over the policy allowing county employees to seek religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement.

The resolution passed 3-2, with Sullivan and Green voting against the policy because they wanted the religious exemption provision removed from the resolution.

County employees must submit proof of vaccination by Dec. 13. Employees who are not vaccinated will be required get tested for the virus weekly starting Jan. 3. Those employees who are unvaccinated will have to pay for the tests themselves.

Supervisors Jon Green and Rod Sullivan pushed to include an amendment to the resolution removing religious exemptions.

Sullivan said people could misuse the religious exemption in order to get out of the vaccination requirement, and he said the supervisors would have to determine the legitimacy of the claims.

“There are decisions like that that are going to have to be made by the county now over and over again, either that or you just except everybody’s quote unquote strongly held belief, and if so, what’s the point?

The amendment to remove religious exemptions did not gain support from the other three supervisors, and failed 2-3.

The Supervisors were all in agreement that the policy and its amendments are still up for further discussion at future meetings.

“So at least that gets us started down the path and if once counsel has had an opportunity to further review the guidance, we’re going to have to come back and tweak this anyway,” Green said.

The Iowa Legislature passed a bill in late October to allow medical and religious excuses for employees to be exempt from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Time is of the essence so if the board decided to not do something today, we better be ready to do something pretty quickly,” Sullivan said at the meeting.

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