Navajo Nation mandates COVID-19 vaccine for government workers

All Navajo Nation executive branch employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September, announced President Jonathan Nez in a news release.

If they aren't vaccinated, they will be regularly tested.

The requirement includes all full, part-time and temporary employees who are working for tribal enterprises like utilities, shopping centers and casinos, the news release said.

Adding, "An employee who fails to provide proof of full vaccination, is considered to be unvaccinated and shall be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result at least once every 14 days."

As of Aug. 25, 83% of Navajo Nation employees are vaccinated, Nez says, and 75% of residents are fully vaccinated.

He believes it's helped keep the Navajo Nation from becoming a hot spot again, saying, "That’s most likely the reason why we have low numbers today. We are announcing over 50 cases in one day compared to the rest of this country. I think that’s a very low case count for a nation as big as ours."

This comes as the Pfizer vaccine was given full FDA approval and many are wondering if companies would mandate vaccinations as many restaurants and businesses have already done so throughout Arizona.

Doctor Jill Jim, executive director for Navajo Department of Health says now it's time to address the concerns people have with vaccines.

"We need to address some of these concerns that people might have in regards to getting their vaccine in order for the government to continue to operate and keeping everyone safe. We don’t wanna end up in a situation like we had before where we had to do complete shutdowns," Jim said.

The requirement comes after several companies and government agencies chose to mandate employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 57 new COVID-19 cases — 20 more than the previous day — plus one more death.

The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s totals to 32,374 coronavirus cases and 1,399 known deaths since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

The vast Navajo Nation spans parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

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