Langley mandates employee vaccines

All city employees of Langley will soon need to follow a new vaccination rule.

All city employees of Langley will soon need to follow a new vaccination rule that has been set in response to the pandemic.

Members of the city council approved a policy requiring all employees of the city to either provide verification of vaccination against COVID-19, or to be tested on a weekly basis and wear a mask at all times.

At a city council meeting Monday night, Councilmember Dominique Emerson led the charge for the new personnel mandate, saying there is a need for the public to be safe when interacting with city staff.

The others were divided, however, on whether the council should establish the policy or if it would be under purview of the mayor. Councilmember Peter Morton suggested that the mayor’s emergency powers could be reinstated and used as they were during the beginning of the pandemic.

“I think that Langley really set the stage and led the defensive activity about COVID when it first came out,” he said.

Councilmember Thomas Gill disagreed and said he didn’t think emergency powers for the mayor would be needed.

Councilmember Christy Korrow pointed out that there are other cities with mandatory vaccine policies, such as Bellingham, Friday Harbor and Shoreline.

“A lot of city governments are adopting these policies,” she said. “I think it’s becoming more and more common.”

The mayor himself, Scott Chaplin, referred to the issue as a “gray area” and suggested that exemptions would need to be made, such as in the case of someone with a medical condition who could not undergo inoculation.

Monica Felici, the city’s finance director, said it was her understanding that 100% of city staff was vaccinated against the virus. Emerson, however, said she had heard otherwise.

“I’m going to disagree with Monica,” she said. “I know for a fact someone wasn’t vaccinated who was an employee.”

She added that a record of COVID-19 vaccination should be part of each employee’s personnel file.

“I think it’s really important for the public to know,” she said.

Councilmember Craig Cyr agreed with her.

“We’re approaching 800,000 citizens in this country having died,” he said of the virus. “A Langley citizen was surprised, came up to me and inferred that there were people not vaccinated.”

The council finalized the policy in a 3-1 vote, with Morton voting against the motion and Gill abstaining from the vote.