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Columbia to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for all city employees

Employees have until November 1 to get the vaccine. They'll also get financial incentives.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The City of Columbia is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all city employees, giving them until November 1 to get the shot.

The council approved the mandate Tuesday as part of a pay and vaccination incentive package for employees that comes from federal coronavirus relief funds. 

Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson said she knows some city employees have "philosophical differences" about getting the vaccine, but workers for the city perform a function that's very different for the general public. 

"We are a service provider," Wilson said. "Those are the jobs we signed up for....We can't do it without the people."

She said they've had vacancies due to people getting sick, which makes it harder to get the city's business done. 

The city also has an financial incentive program and hazard pay program for employees. 

  • Frontline essential employees will get $2,500, with an additional $500 if they get vaccinated for a total of $3,000
  • Essential workers will get $1,250 with an extra $500 if they get vaccinated
  • Any other employee can get $500 if they get fully vaccinated

The city also approved a 3% cost of living adjustment for all employees that will be coming in February.