Breaking News
More () »

New COVID-19 vaccine rules for City of Charlotte workers

Effective immediately, all new City of Charlotte employees will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. So far, 70% of the city's workforce is vaccinated.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The City of Charlotte announced it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for new workers after officials said 70% of the city's workforce was vaccinated, falling just short of their goal of 75%

City Manager Marcus Jones said 679 workers got vaccinated in September. The departments with the biggest increases in vaccinated workers were Charlotte Fire, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and the Charlotte Water Authority. 

"Employers have the right to set the conditions for which a new employee takes their job," Cory Burkarth, a City of Charlotte spokesperson said. "For instance, if we had a job posted that said you need a college degree, that's a condition that employers are allowed to set."

The city offered all employees $250 for getting fully vaccinated, with another $250 available if 75% of workers were vaccinated by the end of September. Since the city is allowing workers until Nov. 19 to get their second dose, the additional $250 is still on the table if enough unvaccinated workers take the shot.

"I think it shows it was very successful and very effective," Burkarth said. "Fire and police both saw triple-digit increases in the number of employees in their department who became vaccinated so that was very encouraging."

In one month, 145 Charlotte firefighters and 184 CMPD officers got vaccinated. In that same month, four Charlotte-area first responders died from COVID-19.

"I think as we've seen a rise in cases with first responders across the country, I think that had a direct result why we saw such large increases with firefighters and police officers getting vaccinated during the month of September," Burkarth said.

Click here to sign up for the daily Wake Up Charlotte newsletter

Although the city will require new hires to be vaccinated, for now, they aren't mandating current employees to be.

"We're going to wait to see right now what the Labor Department does, what OSHA does but right now as it stands, there's no citywide vaccine mandate for current existing employees, only new employees to the city," Burkarth said.

The Fire Department has the lowest vaccination rate at 59.4% and the Police Department has the third-lowest at 66.5%.

The Fraternal Order of Police is not in favor of a mandate and there are concerns one could lead to staffing shortages.

"That's a high percentage of officers that are not on your streets and if they're terminated, what's going to happen to our community? Is crime going to go up? Yeah, probably," Yolian Ortiz, a spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police said.

All vaccinated city workers are also eligible for wellness incentive programs, which provide annual medical premium savings or city contributions. In August, Mayor Vi Lyles said she hoped the incentives would be enough to convince hesitant workers to get vaccinated. 

"This could impact a family, especially at that amount of money," Lyles said.

For employees who choose not to get vaccinated, they will not be eligible to participate in the wellness incentive program. This could cost them up to $775 each year. 

Contact Richard DeVayne at rdevayne@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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
SUBSCRIBEApple 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.  

Before You Leave, Check This Out