City of Carmel requiring new hires to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19


If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s probably not worth your time to apply for a job with the City of Carmel. 

The city implemented a policy June 1 that requires all new employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to their first day of employment, and Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said he’s not ruling out expanding the policy to include current employees. 

Mayor Jim Brainard

“It’s important for people who live and work in Carmel to know that the city employees they interact with are not going to spread COVID-19 to them,” Brainard said. “It’s particularly important given that many of our city employees are health care workers taking ill people to the hospital and treating them in their homes and businesses when they become ill. Those residents need to know that we’ve done everything possible to protect their health.” 

The city will require verbal affirmation of vaccination status when an offer of employment is made. State law prohibits the city from requiring proof of vaccination. 

The city’s policy states exceptions may be granted for a “medical reason or sincerely held religious belief.” 

Brainard said he worked with the city’s human resources department to craft the policy and that it was implemented after COVID-19 vaccines became available to all adults. 

The mayor said he’ll monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and look to the business community as city officials consider whether to expand the policy to include all employees. 

“We all took polio shots and diphtheria (vaccines), and more recently chicken pox shots. All these things have improved quality of life and added to average longevity in this country,” Brainard said. “This is no different.” 

The mandatory vaccine policy for new hires proved to be unpopular with several people who spoke during the public comment portion of the Aug. 2 city council meeting. Their concerns ranged from legal implications if the vaccines — currently in use through Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA — are found to cause problems in the future; the number of adverse reactions reported; and the possibility of turning away highly competent employees because of their vaccination status. 

“It’s time to step down and let us take responsibility for ourselves,” Cathy Nickels-Herndon said during the public comment portion of the meeting.