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Vaccine POD experience varies for PEF members

By SHERRY HALBROOK

If you have worked for the state for a while you may have noticed that when it comes to rolling out new programs, one size rarely fits all, and the new statewide network of more than 30 PODs (Points of Distribution sites) administering thousands of COVID-19 vaccinations every day is a perfect example of that.

For members of the public receiving their vaccinations, it seems to be a uniformly good experience.  For PEF members who work at the PODS, it is a much more varied experience.  Some members were assigned by their state agency to drop their regular duties and work at a POD.  Others volunteered and were permitted by their agency to work at least some days at a POD.

One member said his agency asked for volunteers, but when two or three dozen employees volunteered, they were all denied.

Another PEF member said she had been happily telecommuting and felt safer doing it, so being told that she had to work full-time at a POD made her feel uneasy about the potential exposure.  She had not been able to get vaccinated, so she signed herself up to receive her vaccinations at the POD.

A member from yet another state agency said POD workers in his area are asked every morning when they showed up to work at the POD if they wanted to be vaccinated.  He said his PEF division leaders met with management and insisted that their members have the opportunity, but it was not mandatory.

A council leader at a different agency and in a different part of the state said that her members’ jobs often require them to go into locations with potentially high COVID-19 levels, and it took a lot of effort from her and a PEF field representative to persuade management to provide vaccinations.

“They finally agreed to vaccinate field staff, but if you weren’t working in the office on the day they offered the vaccinations, you lost out.  Nobody can get an appointment for a vaccination at a POD around here.  I’m still trying to get an appointment to be vaccinated,” the council leader said.  “I have so many members calling and asking me how to get an appointment.  They (agency management) really failed all of the employees.”

Several members did agree on one point. Agencies that assigned their employees work at the PODs are starting to push them harder to also get their regular job duties done as well.