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St. Louis County passes vaccine mandate for county employees

Employees can opt to be tested instead of getting the vaccine.
Credit: KSDK

CLAYTON, Mo. — St. Louis County will now require employees to get a COVID vaccine or wear a mask and submit to regular testing if they do not. 

There was passionate opposition to the mandate from those who attended Tuesday's county council meeting in person. Nevertheless, the county council passed the vaccine requirement along party lines with the four Democrats voting for the measure and the three Republicans voting against it. 

This bill's sponsor said the mandate does not apply to St. Louis County police officers or political appointees, but late Tuesday night there seemed to be differing views on exactly how wide-reaching the new policy is. 

County Executive Sam Page told the council everyone on his staff is vaccinated and he is expected to sign the bill Wednesday.

Councilman Tim Fitch, (R) District 3, is still pushing for legislation that would compensate any county employee who has an adverse reaction to the vaccine with lifetime health care or a $1 million death benefit for any county employee who dies from taking the vaccine. 

Several speakers Tuesday night referenced numbers from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services arguing COVID vaccines have been lethal in some cases. 

But doctors and medical experts, and even the online information some were referencing all point out that while some people have died after receiving a vaccine there is no evidence any of the vaccines approved in the U.S. have caused any deaths.

These numbers reflect individuals who would have died regardless of their vaccination status says Michael Kinch, PhD who studies vaccines at Washington University in St. Louis. 

"These were people who are going to die no matter what. They just happened to have gotten the vaccine," Kinch told 5 On Your Side. 

Kinch worries policies like the one Fitch is proposing give credibility to misinformation about the vaccines. 

"What they are doing, intentionally or not, is undermining the public's faith in something that has proven to be safe and effective," said Kinch.