MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New data shows only half of city employees are vaccinated, and now some Memphis City Council members want to require a vaccine mandate.
“We tired of burying y’all,” said funeral home director and Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford, Sr.
The strong reaction came after Ford learned Tuesday that only half of the city’s 4,000 employees are vaccinated.
“Shut this doggone place down if they’re not going to take the vaccine, or lay their (expletive) off,” he said.
Here’s a breakdown of reported vaccinations by division:
Solid Waste is the lowest at 37%. Both police and fire hovering just under 50% as well. The data is from people who have voluntarily uploaded their vaccine cards into an online system.
Some council members worried that people didn’t know they had that option. Others like Dr. Jeff Warren believe vaccine hesitancy also contributes to low numbers.
“That’s what we have been dealing with,” Warren said. “People have bad information out there and I think as an employer it’s our obligation to protect our employees, and if we have to mandate it, we do and shouldn’t hesitate.”
When it comes to issuing a vaccine mandate, the city says it’s looking into how forthcoming OSHA regulations for employers with more than 100 people would be impacted by exemption laws in Tennessee.
“I don’t want to be around nobody that don’t want to take this shot. Y’all need to mandate it,” Ford said.
Everyone agreed something needs to be done to increase vaccination numbers among city employees.
“I don’t know where this discussion is going but I know we need to have it,” Council member Worth Morgan said. “We need to recognize this is a problem. We need to talk about it publicly and then together come up with a solution that’s going to be adequate because where we are now isn’t adequate.”
The city currently offers $250 in incentives for employees if they are vaccinated.