Major New Mexico employer mandating employees be vaccinated

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –The government agency that runs the Very Large Array (VLA) in Socorro County said it’s going to start a vaccine requirement Sept. 1 for onsite employees.

It’ll apply to anyone coming through its buildings who can’t work remotely.

"We felt it was important that we had a vaccine mandate to ensure that everybody on our staff, and all these visitors, and students and the communities that we live in are as safe as possible from COVID," said Dr. Tony Beasley, Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

He said the close-contact work environment is one reason for the decision.

“We are, sort of, a little bit ahead of where everyone else is. I do think there will be more places and more organizations getting to this in future," he said.

VLA is a source of discoveries in space, time-keeping and is a major employer.

"Now they’re having to choose between getting the vaccination, which they don’t want, and their jobs and retirement, and I think it’s really sad that they’re having to make that choice," said Rep. Gail Armstrong.

Armstrong is urging the VLA to scrap the policy, saying employees still won’t get vaccinated.

"I think it’s going to hurt the economics of rural New Mexico, especially in my area," she said.

Dr. Beasley said this hiccup could delay the expansion plans currently in the works, but “it’s a pain we’re willing to endure.”