The village of Oak Park could be following the White House’s lead when it comes to the vaccination status of personnel. Just as President Joe Biden signed an executive order Sept. 9 requiring federal employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Interim Village Manager Lisa Shelley confirmed the village was considering imposing a similar mandate for village staff.
“We are working our way through the discussions with some of our labor unions,” said Shelley.
The interim village manager declined to name the unions or the status of the discussions, stating she could not discuss negotiations. However, she told Wednesday Journal the village was reviewing the impact of another executive order – that of Governor J.B. Pritzker, issued Aug. 26.
Along with school and higher education personnel, Pritzker’s executive order requires healthcare workers to undergo a complete series of COVID-19 vaccinations. At a minimum, the order dictates people within these groups must have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccination series or a single dose vaccine within 10 days after the issuance of the order and be fully vaccinated within 30 of the first dose.
The village of Oak Park is paying particular attention to the order’s language pertaining to healthcare workers. Shelley shared that the village has identified the nurses employed by the Oak Park Public Health Department as healthcare workers.
Likewise, the village’s emergency medical technicians (EMTs), all firefighters, fall under the category of healthcare workers as “they work under the direction of a medical director and under his license at Loyola Hospital,” according to the interim village manager. That medical director is emergency medicine specialist Dr. Mark E. Cichon, Professor and Chairman Department of Emergency Medicine at Loyola University Chicago.
“Since [healthcare workers] have an immediate [vaccination] deadline, those conversations are further along,” Shelley said. “The details in this mandate are then being used as the basis of the conversations with the other labor unions.”
With the delta variant sweeping the nation, COVID-19 remains a major problem. Despite vaccination efforts led by the state, county and village itself, positive cases continue to mount in Oak Park. The village of Oak Park announced Sept. 8 that 59 residents had tested positive for the virus since the last COVID-19 update on Sept. 1, when the village reported 65 new cases.