Del Mar city employee vaccination mandate leads to high compliance

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Nearly 100% of Del Mar’s city employees complied with a vaccination mandate that the City Council enacted last fall.

As of the Dec. 15 deadline, 98.3% of full-time employees and 97.4% of part-time employees complied with the mandate, according to City Manager Ashley Jones. The part-time employees who did not comply are no longer working for the city.

All 73 part-time employees with the city as of Jan. 3 were vaccinated. Out of 58 full-time employees, only one was noncompliant. That person was placed on administrative leave and is undergoing a disciplinary process as required by the city’s personnel rules, Jones said.

Nine percent of those full-time employees complied with the mandate by receiving religious or medical exemptions, Jones said.

Del Mar, the smallest city in the county, and San Diego, the largest, were two of the many government bodies in larger, metropolitan areas that issued a vaccination mandate for government employees. The city of San Diego recently issued 86 advanced termination notices to city employees who were noncompliant with a vaccination mandate approved in November, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The departments that received the most notices were public utilities, police and recreation.

Del Mar council members implemented their vaccine mandate for city employees during a meeting last September. In October, they discussed adding regulations that would require Del Mar residents and visitors to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars and other local businesses.

“I want our constituents to feel safe to go to a local restaurant and eat or go in to have a drink and not have to be worried about someone from Louisiana or a foreign country seated next to them who is not vaccinated and may be carrying the disease,” Dwight Worden, who was deputy mayor at the time, said during that meeting.

Worden had mentioned the city of West Hollywood, which approved a similar law. But the rest of the council was skeptical about passing any local laws that were more restrictive than the county measures already in place.

“I think that it’s difficult for us to ask something more than what the county guidelines, the California guidelines, are recommending at this time,” said City Councilwoman Tracy Martinez, a registered nurse and health care executive.

The City Council instead approved a motion for all five members to show proof of vaccination. It passed unanimously, although Worden said it was “kind of meaningless” because they have already publicly said they’re vaccinated.

“I think that’s a pretty weak message to the public about our level of commitment,” Worden said.