COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The five county commissioners unanimously passed a proclamation against the state or the federal government requiring people to take COVID-19 vaccines.
The proclamation was read at the beginning of Tuesday's regular meeting, and was applauded by a group of around a dozen citizens supporting the action.
Commissioner Carrie Geitner introduced the proclamation.
"There was supposed to be a meeting Thursday about the state health department reconsidering the vaccine mandate for health care professionals and other groups," she said. "But since this proclamation was written, the state has decided to let the mandate stand until it hears what the federal government plans to do about its mandate for employers with more than 100 workers. I'm very disappointed about that."
Marie, a 21-year Colorado Springs city employee, told commissioners about the high stress level surrounding vaccine mandates.
"People are worried about firing employees or getting sick from taking the vaccine," she said. "I want to thank you for your actions today."
Stacy Adair, a Colorado Springs teacher, said that the proclamation will encourage others opposed to vaccine mandates to take a similar stand.
Commissioner Chairman Stan VanderWerf said that he and his fellow board members decided to issue the proclamation two weeks ago.
"With state or federal directives possibly coming out soon about mandates, we wondered if we should wait to issue this proclamation," he said. "We decided to do it now. Taking the vaccine should be a personal choice. No one should be forced to do it or be fired if you don't."
The proclamation is largely symbolic with no power to change mandates, but VanderWerf said that's not the point.
"Hopefully, it places the state and federal governments on notice that this is our position," he said. "We can't even say how many county workers have been vaccinated because doing so would violate their privacy."
In other business, commissioners heard from several county departments about their critical needs as the budget toward finalizing next year's budget continues.
"I didn't hear any unreasonable requests," VanderWerf said. "But we have more departments to hear from on Thursday. I was pleased that some departments have no critical needs this year, but they will in upcoming years."
VanderWerf also said that the county is considering an employee pay increase similar to one being considered by the Colorado Springs City Council, in order to fill job openings and prevent workers from leaving for better-paying jobs elsewhere.
To read the entire proclamation, visit: https://www.agendasuite.org/iip/elpaso/file/getfile/25553.