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Vaccine mandates vary in Longmont

Some give cash bonuses for a shot
COVID-19 Vaccine 2
Doctor preparing the coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine. Details of hands and syringe.

Some Longmont area managers are mandating employees get the COVID-19 vaccine, citing ongoing concerns about the reach of the pandemic and the vulnerable populations their facilities serve.

Lafayette-based Imagine! - which provides services for those with cognitive and developmental disabilities - is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, effective Sept. 1.

The policy is a “reflection of Imagine!’s mission, our values and guiding principles,” according to a news release. A full vaccination ensures safety that is backed by science and law, freedom of movement, ease of communication, service delivery with the least restrictions and equity, the news release said.

People receiving Imagine! Services are not required to get the vaccine, but the nonprofit is “strongly encouraging those who are able to receive a vaccine to do so,” the news release said.

Other managers are coupling the mandates with cash bonuses for employees, including at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont. 

UCHealth plans to mandate the vaccine for all employees and contractors at some point, likely later this year, said spokeswoman Paula Freund in an email. “We want to provide the safest possible environment for our patients, visitors and employees, and requiring everyone to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the same way we mandate influenza vaccinations will help improve safety for everyone.”

In late June, UCHealth announced that all vaccinated employees and contractors would receive a $500 bonus, Those who are currently vaccinated will receive the bonus in mid-July, and anyone who gets vaccinated between then and Aug. 22 would receive the bonus on Sept. 3, Freund said.

Centura Health - associated with Longmont United Hospital - is not requiring caregivers to receive the vaccine. But to encourage vaccination, Centura Health is offering a $500 “appreciation” bonus as an incentive, said Centura spokesman Kevin Massey in an email.

More than 70% of Centura’s 21,000 caregivers have been vaccinated, and hospital officials are  hopeful that the number will continue to rise, Massey said.

On Longmont’s Main Street, Aime’s Love Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe asked everyone to wear masks until the business’s entire staff and their family members who wanted to be vaccinated got a COVID shot, owner and CFO Jennifer Love Walter said via email.

“Now, our sign indicates that it is still our preference for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in our building,” Love Walter said. “I ask that everyone wear a mask because we are still in a world wide pandemic. We are fortunate that Boulder County has a high vaccination rate but the world doesn’t and due to low vaccination rates and reduced mask wearing, more variants continue to develop.”

She said mask wearing shows a consideration of others and is not as an infringement on her rights. Others see it differently, Love Walter said. “...I personally know people who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear a mask, leading me to know I cannot trust others to do what I see is the right thing and wear a mask.”

Another downtown business owner said he trusts vaccines but to get innoculated is one's personal choice. He declined to give his name, fearing retribution for his views. “I believe in vaccines. But to require one…no.”