Councilor pushes for city workers to get COVID-19 vaccine
Councilor pushes for city workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

Councilor pushes for city workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Albuquerque councilor Issac Benton is adamant about demanding that some city employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 for public safety reasons. His motion for a resolution was heard at a public safety committee meeting this afternoon. If the decision was passed, it would require frontline city workers to be vaccinated, get a religious exemption or undergo weekly testing.

“I drafted this in October, and since we know that this virus has mutated and changed frequently, as it has been public reactions across the country, I think it is worthy of a debate,” Councilor Benton said.

Benton says given their increased interaction with the public, unvaccinated frontline workers only increase the likelihood of them being infected and then spreading the virus further. Matthew Watkins with the local Albuquerque Firefighters Union says his members are strongly opposed to it. He says that if the vaccines become mandatory, then things might not look so good for their department.

“If something like this were forced, they have already told us that they would retire, which would certainly strain our system. We have other members who may not be at a time when they can retire, but they are adamant that they will not be vaccinated, ”said IAFF Local Union 244 Vice President Matthew Watkins.

Watkins says employees who do not have the years to retire would look for jobs elsewhere where a covid vaccine is not a requirement. City workers were told to prepare for a vaccine mandate following President Biden’s announcement to companies with more than 100 workers, but were put on hold after the Supreme Court overturned it.

KRQE news 13 asked Mayor Tim Keller’s office on Tuesday whether he would sign or veto Benton’s legislation if it hit his desk. They would not say it until the decision has been voted on by the full council. The resolution was adopted by the Committee on Public Security without a recommendation by four to one vote. It now goes to the entire city council.

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