CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County Council has voted to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for county employees. The vote was 6-2 with one councilmember absent.
Charleston County is now the second municipality to require vaccines for employees. North Charleston employees are also now required to get vaccinated.
“I just think that folks ought to have a safe environment when they come to work and our customers should have a safe place to come and do business so that’s why I supported it,” Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said. “The CDC recommends doing this, the vaccine has been approved by the FDA.”
The decision came after council listened to a presentation about the surge of COVID-19 cases from the state health department’s assistant state epidemiologist.
Some council members expressed concern about forcing medical treatment. Councilwoman Jenny Honeycutt was one of two council members to vote against it.
“I have serious questions about who individually are reflected in the numbers who refuse the vaccines and what that means for those people and the reasons they have chosen not to get vaccinated, and I don’t think it’s my responsibility to substitute my governmental power over their medical choices,” Honeycutt said.
The county has nearly 2,500 employees and 79% of the ones under the administrator’s responsibility, which excludes elected officials and appointed officials, are vaccinated.
During the meeting, county officials said they have 54 employees within the county that have tested positive in the last two weeks.
Councilman Henry Darby was originally planning on voting against the mandate but changed his mind.
“There comes a time when government can be too intrusive and that’s what I wrestled with this afternoon and that’s why I had to call one of my mentors to get his perspective and when he said that in fact when you have to look out for the best interest of children that’s what you do,” Darby said
On Wednesday, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for city employees.
Summey said it was not easy for him to adopt a vaccine policy, but he said his responsibility was to the health and well being of his employees. The mayor said he wanted to make sure that emergency personnel like police and fire were able to provide services in a “safe manner” for the city’s citizens.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported more than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the second day in a row Thursday morning. DHEC reported a total of 5,229 new cases, more than 100 over the previous day, and 60 deaths, down from 86 reported on Wednesday.
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