Hennepin and Ramsey counties to require vaccinations for employees

13,000 employees across the two counties will be required to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

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Two more employers have joined the growing number of entities requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Hennepin County, which employs over 9,000 workers, stated in an August 17 press release that it will require all employees, contractors, and volunteers to show proof of vaccination by October 1.

The county is allowing only “limited exceptions” for “medical and religious reasons.”

Those who remain unvaccinated after the October 1 cutoff will have to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and will be solely “responsible for obtaining and sharing their test results.”

The county will continue to implement social distancing rules and require face coverings regardless of vaccination status.

“Every person who gets vaccinated gets us closer to ending the pandemic,” Hennepin County Public Health Director Susan Palchick said.

Hennepin County District 3 Commissioner and Board Chair Marion Greene stated that the county is “proud to join the growing coalition of employers in Minnesota who are requiring vaccination.”

“By taking this action we hope to strengthen community norms around vaccination, and keep our employees and residents safe and healthy,” she added.

In addition to the new vaccine requirements, county commissioners also approved $650,000 in extra funding for their vaccine incentive program. The program includes “$50 Visa gift cards [for] anyone who gets vaccinated at a Hennepin County vaccine clinic or event.”

That’s in addition to the state of Minnesota’s $100 cash incentive, a press release clarifies.

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a similar vaccine mandate this week for its nearly 4,000 employees.

Gov. Tim Walz issued a vaccine mandate for all state employees in early August following President Joe Biden’s vaccination requirement for federal workers. Walz urged other Minnesota employers to do the same.

Hennepin and Ramsey counties join employers like the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, the Minnesota State system, and several health care companies in mandating vaccinations. These mandates have sparked a growing health freedom movement among Minnesotans, especially health care workers who risk losing their jobs by remaining unvaccinated.