After a successful motion on Monday, staff will bring back a report about a draft COVID-19 vaccination policy for mayor and council, as well as citizen volunteer committees and boards.
North Kent Coun. Joe Faas entered the motion, which asked council to direct staff to return with a report for approval by the Oct. 4 meeting.
“I feel that it’s our part to set an example … that we’re willing to do that,” he said, noting that the municipality encourages citizens and businesses to do the same.
West Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan, who supported Monday’s motion, said vaccination is still a choice, but that other people have the right to be protected from potential exposure if they sit on a committee.
“People’s rights end where others’ begin,” she said.
Harrigan said it would simply provide a safeguard and not ultimately force anyone to get the shot against their wishes. She added that vaccination is the best way out of the pandemic.
“I absolutely appreciate that everyone is going to make their own health decisions based on the information that’s in front of them,” she said. “Taking a leadership role and supporting vaccines and saying, ‘yes, this is a policy we’re going to be committed to,’ helps us get one step closer out of this mess as a council, as a municipality and as a community.”
South Kent Coun. Trevor Thompson questioned what would happen with boards that have multi-jurisdictional representation, such as the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, to which chief administrative officer Don Shropshire said it wouldn’t have an impact.
While some at the table said they’re not anti-vaccination, they were reluctant to make the decision for others who wanted to serve the community.
East Kent Coun. Steve Pinsonneault, who is a volunteer firefighter sometimes assisting on medical calls, said he’s fully vaccinated but didn’t support the motion.
“I made the choice to vaccinate as soon as it was available and I believe that was the right choice,” he said. “However, at the end of the day, it was my choice to do it.
“Doing this, I think you’re going to lose a lot of good committee members. … Let’s face it, they’re volunteers.”
Chatham Coun. Doug Sulman requested information also come forward concerning the municipal staff vaccination policy, which was recently finalized. He said it would make sense to have those details when making a decision.
General manager of corporate services Cathy Hoffman said she could provide an update in the report.
“We just rolled it out to our employee group late last week,” she said. “We’ve been giving them a chance to review it and understand it and ask questions before implementation.”