More than 90% of Multnomah County employees comply with vaccine mandate

By Alex Hasenstab (OPB)
Oct. 13, 2021 11:10 p.m. Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 11:26 p.m.

Multnomah County has reported that 92% of its 5,601 employees — around 5,153 people — will be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in compliance with a county mandate announced in August. That leaves just a small fraction of the workforce at risk of termination.

County Chair Deborah Kafoury required county employees must be vaccinated for COVID-19 or receive an exemption.


“Multnomah County cares for people in crisis. We work with seniors, people with disabilities, individuals in detention and with families needing health services. Our community needs to know we are doing everything we can to keep them safe and to end this pandemic,’’ Kafoury said in a statement.

Just under 7%, or 373 employees, have received approved religious or medical exceptions or are exempt from the mandate under state law.

Only 73 employees have not gotten vaccinated, and have been notified they will be laid off or terminated unless they show proof of vaccination or submit an exemption request by the Oct. 18 deadline, the county said.


If an employee starts the vaccination process but doesn’t meet the deadline, they can work remotely, wear protective gear, or take leave until they are fully vaccinated.

The percentage of county employees who are vaccinated is higher than the county as whole, where about 80% of adults 18 and over have been vaccinated.

The employee vaccination rate does not include deputy sheriffs, or parole and probation officers. Under Oregon law, local municipalities can only issue vaccine mandates for law enforcement if a federal or state rule requires it. The Oregon Health Authority clarified law enforcement is likely not subject to a state vaccine mandate issued through executive order by Gov. Kate Brown, as providing medical care is not a fundamental part of their job. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office reports at least 79% of its staff is vaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Kafoury issued the mandate Aug. 20 during a surge of COVID-19 cases, largely emerging from the delta variant. Since the pandemic began in 2020, 721 Multnomah County residents have died of COVID-19, 54,729 people have tested positive and 3,639 people have been hospitalized.

County employees have been able to seek exemptions from the mandate based on religious beliefs or on documentation from a health care provider.

The county said that — excluding the Sheriff’s Office —14 workers have received medical exceptions. Another 192 received religious exceptions. Eleven applications were denied and a small number are still pending.

All county employees who are exempt from the vaccination requirement and are unvaccinated will be required to be fit-tested and wear N95 specific masks to continue to work.


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