Somerville

Somerville Health Officials Reject Citywide Vaccine Mandate

Somerville rejected a proposed vaccine mandate that would have been phased in at the end of January and charged violators with a $300 fine

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Unlike in Boston and Brookline, health officials in Somerville shot down a citywide vaccine mandate during a meeting Thursday night.

Unlike in Boston and Brookline, health officials in Somerville shot down a citywide vaccine mandate during a meeting Thursday night.

According to the city's latest public health data, 80% of Somerville residents are fully vaccinated and 43% have also received a booster shot.

The proposed vaccine mandate followed the same rules that the city of Boston put into place, which requires proof of vaccination for indoor entertainment like galleries, music venues, bowling alleys, indoor dining and gyms.

The proposed mandate in Somerville would have been phased in at the end of January and charged violators with a $300 fine.

Brian Green, chair of the Somerville Board of Health, stressed that masking and testing are important ways to combat the spread of the virus and should be the focus.

"What we have in Somerville is a discrepancy between who’s vaccinated and who’s not. And we still need to get at that and tactically I don’t know that this is going to do it," Green said.

Over the last two weeks, the city has seen about 163 cases for every 100,000 people.

Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne issued a statement Friday about the vote.

"The important takeaway from last night’s hearing is that the Board and the City are in agreement that vaccination is critical to getting this virus under control. The question for us is which tools do we use to advance that goal," Ballantyne said. "Naturally, we were hoping the Board would support the proposed requirement, but I respect their decision and their thoughtful deliberation, so today we move on to the next effort. My focus now, as before, remains fully on using every strategy we have to take on the pandemic. Since day one in office, I’ve had staff doubling down to increase access to testing, masks, vaccines, information, and financial and health supports. This decision will not slow us down, it just adds fuel to our efforts to address the virus on every front."

Unlike in Boston and Brookline, health officials in Somerville shot down a citywide vaccine mandate during a meeting Thursday night.