San Carlos Apache Reservation mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for all Tribal employees

By Jon Johnson

SAN CARLOS APACHE RESERVATION – Any employee of the San Carlos Apache Tribe has until Sept. 25, 2021, to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. 

That is according to Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler and a memorandum that was sent Aug. 11 to all staff of all enterprises. A little more than 1,000 tribal members are yet to be vaccinated, the memorandum stated.

Terry Rambler Photo/Facebook: San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler sports a UofA facemask and encourages others to follow his example.

According to the San Carlos Apache Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC), positive COVID-19 tests have surged 187% on the Reservation since June. The San Carlos Apache Reservation reported 34 new cases on Monday, with 13 being children under 12 years of age, and two new hospitalizations. The Tribe currently has 80 active cases and lists an R-naught value of 18, which means one infected person is infecting 18 others.  

According to the memorandum, employees who refuse or otherwise have no proof of vaccination shall be subject to bi-weekly testing for COVID-19. An employee may apply to opt-out of receiving the vaccination for religious purposes or if the employee is medically unable to receive a vaccination. 

“In such a case, the Tribe and its enterprises shall make reasonable accommodation, subject to an individual determination conducted by the Human Resources Department for the respective employee, provided that such accommodation cannot impose an undue hardship on the Tribe,” according to the memorandum.

Rambler advised via a social media post that the action to mandate employees be vaccinated came at the recommendation of the TERC.