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Benton considers employee vaccination program

By Rick Hayes
Contributing writer
Posted on 6/6/2018, 1:00 AM

The city of Benton is exploring the idea of providing vaccinations for its employees to keep them safe on the job.

"We had an incident where one of our officers (police) got spit on and the guy had hepatitis B. It didn't get in his eyes, but it could've because he (the officer) wiped his face off with his shirt sleeve," public health and safety commissioner Don Storey explained.

"They've (employees) had it before but I don't think everybody got it," Storey said, adding the hepatitis vaccine is a three-month process.

Commissioner Dennis Miller said all departments should be included in the vaccination program, although retired city employee Tom Carter said sewer department employees have been on a vaccination regimen for years. Miller noted water department employees are also vaccinated regularly.

"We've tried to have a flu clinic in the past, but nobody would participate," Miller said, suggesting the city get cost estimates and scheduling provisions from Bi-County Health and Work Care.

"If we do it for one (department), I think we should do it for all employees," he added.

City Attorney Tom Malkovich suggested the council not make the program mandatory until all of the information from the health agencies becomes available.

In a related issue, the council approved the purchase of 12 cases of Narcan at a cost of $900. The cost will be reimbursed by Southern Illinois Healthcare, according to Storey. Narcan is the first and only FDA-approved nasal form on Naloxone for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose.

"The police need this, and I'm glad they're getting it, because Franklin County has a high number of incidents of opioid overdoses," said Mayor Fred Kondritz, who has attended meetings on the issue. "We're working to control the opioid abuse and use. What I fear is that someday that we're going to have to pay for it out of our pocket. There is going to be a cost factor that we're going to have to make a decision on. I think as a group we're here to keep people alive, but we also need to educate people not to use opioids and prevent overdoses. If we run out of Narcan and go to a call, the patient could die. That's how serious Narcan is."

In other action, the council approved infrastructure repairs/improvements on Illinois Avenue and Park Street and on Illinois 37 North from Illinois Avenue to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Building; approved a policy to use safety cans for fuel storage; gave Mr. A (Gene Alexander) the green light to paint a mural on the south side of the city hall parking lot; and approved an intergovernmental agreement for the I-57 corridor enterprise zone, which also includes the cities of West City and West Frankfort, as well as the Franklin County Board.