Riley County commission votes to not create federal vaccine mandate policy


Riley County commissioners voted 2-1 Monday to not create a policy for federal vaccine mandates for county employees.

The areas of concern were going to be for the heath and EMS departments, due to each receiving federal funding from Medicare and/or Medicaid. This new mandate would affect facilities covered by these entities and non-compliance could mean losing that funding.

County Counselor Clancy Holeman says while the health department doesn’t fall under any of the 21 definitions, arguments could be made against it.

      Clancy Holeman

Holeman says the EMS compliance is also not as clear, since the conditions also include transportation to covered facilities.

Human Resources Manager Elizabeth Ward says out of the 293 county employees, 241 confirmed being fully vaccinated.

      Elizabeth Ward

Commissioners asked the departments what they are seeing across the state.   EMS Director David Adams says most of the nearby counties have not opted in or are waiting to see what the other counties do.

      David Adams

Adams says the Kansas Board of EMS, in their opinion, says EMS departments are not covered. However, a national law firm for EMS leaned more towards coverage.

Health Department Director Julie Gibbs says they have to look at the risks from both sides of implementing a policy.

      Julie Gibbs

Commission Chair John Ford called any such policy, government overreach.

      John Ford

Commissioner Kathryn Focke favored a policy, saying the risk otherwise was too big.

      Kathryn Focke

Since the clarity of both departments being covered is muddled, Commissioner Greg McKinley was also not in favor.


About Author

County government and school board reporter. 2016 Kansas State University graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications. Kansas born and raised.

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