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Unvaccinated Starkville employees to pay more for insurance

December 5, 2021 GMT

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Starting in early February, Starkville city employees who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 may have to pay an extra $75 a month for medical insurance.

Aldermen for the Mississippi city set the policy in September and set it to take effect Dec. 1. They met last week and voted to delay that until Feb. 4.

Board attorney Chris Latimer told the board it must provide a reasonable alternative to the surcharge to meet legal requirements for the increase, The Commercial Dispatch reported.

The board approved an alternative allowing unvaccinated employees to be exempt from the penalty if their physician fills out a form saying that getting the vaccine is unreasonably difficult for the employee because of a medical condition.

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City officials said they wanted to delay putting the policy into effect as to not hit families with an additional financial burden during the holiday season. Alderman Mike Brooks was originally opposed to the delay, but later agreed, saying a delay in the charge is better than not implementing it at all.

“I do understand getting through the holidays,” Brooks said. “I know that $75 is a lot of money for a lot of our employees. … I’m trying to balance not penalizing these 172 employees while not penalizing the other 24,000 people that live here.”