Metro Atlanta city boasts high employee vaccination rate, aims for 90%

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

A metro Atlanta city that requires its employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing is touting its high participation rate.

Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold said during a recent commission meeting that more than 86% of full-time city employees are vaccinated. That towers over the vaccination rates DeKalb County, Georgia and the nation.

“I was just like, ‘just seven more (vaccinated employees) and we’ll be at 90%,’” Arnold said during the meeting, “so that’s my challenge that I’m putting out there.”

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Decatur was among the first metro Atlanta cities to enact a get-vaccinated-or-get-tested policy, alongside Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Doraville and a few others. When the city adopted its policy last September, only 63% of full-time employees were vaccinated.

The jump in participation outpaces most other jurisdictions. Georgia’s current vaccination rate is 54%, while DeKalb is at 56%. Both lag behind the nationwide rate of about 63%.

“The vaccination rates for Georgians and in DeKalb County still remain pretty abysmal,” Arnold said.

During the meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to extend the city’s longstanding mask ordinance through Feb. 22. Decatur is one of a few cities that requires residents to wear masks in both public buildings and private businesses. However, private property owners are allowed to opt-out by posting signs that they will not enforce the ordinance.

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The policy hasn’t garnered much controversy in Decatur and has been renewed several time since August 2021. While the policy carries a potential $50 fine for violators, Arnold previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that police have not been called once — let alone issued any fines or citations. She said Tuesday that the bulk of enforcement is placed on residents to report violators to police.

“We are reliant on the public who are out shopping, dining — if they do see establishments that are violating this ordinance, we ask that they just notify us,” she said.