CABQ, Bernalillo County will not require employees to get COVID vaccine

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County says they will not require their employees to get the covid vaccine.

This decision comes two months after both the federal and state governments issued their own mandates, and president Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to make a rule to require all employers with 100 employees to have a vaccine mandate.

While OSHA hasn’t finalized that rule yet, the county says a big consideration they had to make was staffing. Bernalillo County Community communications Director Tia Bland said, right now, it’s a balancing act of what mandates they can put in place and how many folks will leave because of those decisions.

Bernalillo County said they weighed the pros and cons of enforcing a vaccine mandate and one of the biggest cons was a large group of retirement eligible workers who don’t want the vaccine.

“Some of those folks did make the county management aware that if a vaccine were to become a requirement to work for the county some of those folks would consider retiring sooner than later,” Bland said.

A lot of those folks work in the already strained public safety departments, so instead of a mandate, they are taking other steps.

“There were a few things that had to be considered and one of the things the county manager took into consideration is whether or not current covid safe practices and procedures seem to be working and in this case they feel like they are,” Bland said.

Those covid safe practices include mandatory masks inside, staggered work schedules, and holding virtual meetings as much as possible.

But Bland adds these requirements could change as quickly as the pandemic has.

“If the situation were to become worse the county manager has the authority to require employee vaccinations if she believes it has become necessary,” Bland said.

But for now the county is highly encouraging their staff to get vaccinated and the city said they are in the same boat.

The City of Albuquerque Spokesperson, Ava Montoya, told KOB 4 in a statement:

“The mandates take into account the reality that municipalities depend on adequate staffing to provide critical services. We’re grateful the majority in our community and workforce have stepped up to get vaccinated and will continue to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get the shot.”

Although the city and county aren’t requiring vaccines for their employees, the county is rewarding those who do get the shot with extra vacation days.