CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A group representing thousands of City of Charlotte workers sent a letter to city leaders opposing a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, Charlotte Firefighters Association and the UE150 Charlotte Chapter sent the letter on Sept. 2, telling city leaders the group believes the choice to get vaccinated should be up to individuals.
"Our organizations do support and encourage our respective members to get vaccinated," the letter says. "Each employee's health and beliefs are unique and this vaccine should be a discussion between them and their medical provider, not elected officials."
The letter closes by saying, "As the voice of your employees, do not mandate the COVID-19 vaccine."
As of Sept. 7, the city has not mandated the vaccine but officials have asked all employees to share their vaccination status.
Data released by the city last week showed that the Charlotte Fire Department has the lowest vaccination rate, with 49% of the department's roughly 1,220 employees fully vaccinated. The fire department said they have worked closely with health officials to educate employees on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine since it became widely available.
Last month, the city announced that workers who are fully vaccinated by Sept. 30 will receive a $250 bonus. If 75% of the city's workforce is fully vaccinated by that date, they will receive an additional $250. The incentive program was announced after WCNC Charlotte reported that some front-line city workers were hoping for better pay and expanded benefits.
Mayor Vi Lyles said she hoped the incentive would keep employees working and serving the community in a safe way, but other city leaders weren't sure if the cash would make a difference in vaccination rates among workers.
"If somebody hasn't gotten the shot already, given how easy it's been to get it, then I wonder if they're going to be persuaded by $250," City Councilman Ed Driggs said.
Wake Up Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at Wake Up Charlotte.
SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Stitcher || TuneIn || Google Podcasts
All of WCNC Charlotte's podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.