Council looks at vaccine mandate

File photo

The Avalon City Council this week discussed requiring city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The council held a special meeting this week due to technical problems that interfered with the broadcast of the last regular council meeting.

City Manager Denise Radde said staff would have to come back to the council with a written policy for their review.

City Attorney Scott Campbell said the city manager, under her rule-making power, could implement a policy based on direction from the council.

Councilmember Yesenia De La Rosa asked if the city has a way to track falsified documents like tests.

Administrative Analyst- Human Resources Stephanie Campbell said the city does not have a way of doing that. She was trying to upload her daughter’s card for school. They misspelled her name, so now she has to wait.

Assistant City Manager Michael Parmer said the policy can be crafted to address falsified information.

According to a staff report by Radde and Administrative Analyst Devin Hart, many private companies are requiring employees to be vaccinated.

“On July 26, 2021 the Department of Justice released a Memorandum Opinion stating that Section 564 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act does not prohibit public or private employers from imposing vaccination requirements,” the report said.

During the Tuesday, Aug. 31, meeting, Councilmember Lisa Lavelle said she requested the item, citing concern for the safety of employees and the public.

According to Lavelle, she wanted to discuss a vaccine mandate or require testing for COVID-19.

Some council members were uncomfortable with mandating vaccinations, but were comfortable with mandating regular testing for the disease.

Mayor Anni Marshall, who believes the vaccine is good, said she was not comfortable telling people that they have to be vaccinated.

“I don’t know, as an elected official, if I have the power to mandate that people stick something in their body,” she said.

City Attorney Campbell advised the council to consider that the county requires vaccines of employees working on county property.

Scott Campbell said the city needed to be clear whether it applies to all city employees—regardless of property—or just employees on the city yard.

Lavelle said people have the choice whether or not to get vaccinated, but the line that she drew is when their reasons for that impinges on somebody else’s ability to do work.

Lavelle said the other challenge she had was that there are people in every city department who have children who are now going back to school.

According to Lavelle, that created an opportunity for the illness come home from school and from home into city departments. “It makes sense to have something,” Lavelle said.

Cinda McGoogan-Cassidy said that, having lost a family member who was not vaccinated, “I want everybody to get vaccinated because I want everybody to live.”

She would be in favor of having a weekly or bi-weekly test of employees who are not vaccinated. “I don’t think it’s fair to require vaccinations, but I do think it’s fair to require weekly or bi-weekly testing,” Cassidy said.