Navajo Nation mandates COVID-19 vaccines or testing for tribal government workers
GALLUP — All Navajo Nation government employees will need to be either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or show a negative test at least once every two weeks, following an executive order the tribal president and attorney general signed late last week.
The order mandates regular, part-time or temporary workers in the executive, legislative and judicial branches, divisions, departments, programs, offices, chapters and enterprises be fully vaccinated by Sept. 29. That means they must have received two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and completed a two week period after receiving the shots.
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Those who do not receive the vaccine, for any reason, must provide negative COVID-19 test results and undergo testing at least every two weeks.
The order also states that the tribe's state of emergency related to COVID-19 remains in place.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 23.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Attorney General Doreen McPaul signed the tribe's order on Aug. 20. It was released publicly two days later.
"This new vaccine mandate will help to keep employees safer and give those who are not able to receive the vaccine the option to get tested more frequently," Nez said.
He added that approximately 83% of executive branch employees have been fully vaccinated.
"But we need to increase that percentage due to the higher transmissibility of the variants. With so many of our employees working directly with our Navajo people, we have to take measures to keep everyone safe and healthy. We cannot afford to shut down the government again. We have to continue providing direct services to the people," Nez said.
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The order comes as the tribe is seeing a rise in new virus infections.
Last week, the Navajo Epidemiology Center reported that the Delta variant has accounted for 59 cases on the tribal land and contact tracing shows travel away from the region and gatherings related to church services, family occasions and funeral services contribute to spreading the virus.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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