While vaccine mandate for City of Vernon employees was lifted last summer, new hires must still show proof

City vax policy lingers

While the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rearview mirror for most, Vernon appears to be an outlier when it comes to civic vaccination policy.

The Southern Interior's largest cities have all paused or lifted vaccination mandates for employees, and Vernon has followed suit – sort of.

City of Vernon spokesperson Christy Poirier says the city's proof of vaccination policy was suspended last June.

However, the city's hiring policy "still includes a clause that as a fundamental term and condition of employment with the city, candidates are required to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19."

The policy applies to candidates for all employee as well as volunteer positions.

Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, West Kelowna and Prince George have all suspended similar policies.

In January, Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas confirmed the city would be lifting its COVID-19 vaccination policy as of Feb. 1.

"The COVID-19 vaccination policy was reviewed by staff as planned and deemed it had served its purpose and was no longer required," Dyas said at the time.

At the time, Penticton still required vaccination. However, in response to a request from Castanet, the city said:

"After a review, the City of Penticton has lifted its COVID-19 vaccination policy.

"Introduced to cope with the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, the policy was in line with mandates and restrictions of other governments around gatherings and travels. As those restrictions have been eliminated or reduced, we now feel comfortable rescinding the policy. The change will not impact existing employees."

West Kelowna lifted its vax requirement in February.

"Now that public health measures have changed self-isolation requirements for COVID-19 to focusing on remaining home when sick, the city is suspending its COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff," city CAO Paul Gipps said in a news release.

According to the city's website, Prince George suspended its mandate on Jan. 13.

The City of Kamloops is pressed 'pause' last summer on its policy requiring new employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

The change took effect July 4.

"While the COVID-19 vaccination policy has not been rescinded, it is currently on hold and we are optimistic it will not be needed in the future," the city said in a tweet.

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