NWFL Beaches International Airport officials discuss COVID-19 vaccine protocol

Bay County

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace: one of the most discussed issues in the country, and it’s no different for the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

Officials talked about their COVID-19 policy for the airport’s 70 employees at the monthly board meeting on Wednesday.

The members were presented with proposed protocol changes to support people who have gotten the vaccine, according to the airport’s executive director, Parker McClellan.

“I think it’s important that we have a variety of opinions and discussions so we’re not some echo chamber of the same opinion, but that we have a healthy discussion on these important issues,” Vice Chairman Holly Melzer said.

The proposed changes included a $500 incentive for any vaccinated employee, which would have amounted to $35,000 from the Federal CARES Act fund.

Employees would have also been able to get one whole shift to receive the vaccine and recover from potential side effects.

Also, if an unvaccinated employee tested positive for COVID-19 and did not have any sick days or vacation time available, they would get leave without pay instead of being fired.

However, some board members said the proposed updated protocol was a slippery slope, and that it was unfair and discriminatory for people with medical exemptions who couldn’t get the vaccine to not get the incentive, as well.

There were different motions discussed to make changes to the current policy. However, four board members voted to keep the current protocol, while three voted no.

In the end, no changes were made to the policy.

Chairman Glen McDonald said he appreciated the open discussions within the board.

“People are concerned about how to keep people safe, and we all want to keep our employees safe,” Chairman McDonald said. “I think the voices from all of the board members, they had some really good questions, especially associated with risk and precedence.”

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