Bath Iron Works. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

Bath Iron Works wants COVID-19 vaccines readily available for its employees, but the shipyard won’t require them to get it.

This comes after the shipyard has seen a growing number of coronavirus cases in recent months, the latest being 17 active cases in early December.

The company is arguing that its nearly 6,800 employees should be included in the 1B (February-April) and 1C (May-June) phases of the state’s inoculation plan, which currently include frontline workers, first responders and other essential workers, the Times Record reported. Bath Iron Works employees are considered essential workers because the company is considered vital to the nation’s defense.

But even if the vaccines will be available at an earlier time, some employees are hesitant to get it.

“I think a vaccine is good and we need herd immunity, but I’m hesitant because it came out so quickly without much testing,” Isaac Pellerin, a shipfitter, told the Times Record. “And it’s not 100 percent effective, so even if you do get it, you could still get COVID-19.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is possible you could get infected in the few weeks after being vaccinated as your body builds immunity to the virus. As a result, mask-wearing and social distancing, will continue even as the vaccine becomes more widely available.

BIW will not offer vaccinations at the shipyard when it’s available to employees, but will provide transportation to local health providers during their work schedule, the company said.