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Merrillville won't require employees to receive vaccine

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Mass vaccination clinic held at Merrillville High School (copy)

Lake County Health Department RN Gail Dedrick administers a COVID-19 vaccine recently at a mass vaccination at Merrillville High School.

MERRILLVILLE — The Town Council won’t require municipal employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

It had considered making the vaccine mandatory for town staff, but council members recently decided they will only strongly encourage employees to receive it.

The Porter County Health Department hosted a two-day vaccine clinic starting Sunday at the Porter County Expo Center in Washington Township. The clinic is expected to inoculate up to 2,800 people with their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The council at the end of March first broached the idea of requiring the vaccine for health and safety reasons because employees are regularly in contact with the public. Councilman Richard Hardaway said officials had conversations about the matter since then and decided a mandate isn’t necessary.

“I’m definitely, adamantly opposed to making it mandatory because we’re all adults and we all know what’s good for us,” Hardaway said. “I think that if we encourage our employees, I think that will go a long way to showing that we’re not a dictatorship, we’re just concerned about everyone.”

Although receiving the vaccine won’t be required of town staff, many have already obtained it and some employees received their initial dose during a recent vaccination program at Merrillville’s Dean & Barbara White Community Center.

Purdue University Northwest staff members Julie Wiejak and Jodi Allen detail the school's vaccine clinic hosted at the College of Nursing. Video by Kale Wilk.

Parks Director Jan Orlich said Merrillville collaborated with the state to host the program to provide the Pfizer vaccine.

She said more than 1,300 doses were issued during the event. Orlich said extra doses were offered to town employees, and several took the opportunity to receive their first shot. Merrillville Engineering Administrator Steve King said he was among those who got his first dose at the community center.

Orlich said state officials will return to the community center April 28-30 to provide the second dose to those who participated in the recent vaccination program in Merrillville.

Hoosiers can visit or call 211 to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations.


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