Public Media for Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The City Of Bethel Has Mandated COVID-19 Vaccinations For City Workers

Elyssa Loughlin

The City of Bethel has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for all city workers. All Bethel city employees, consultants, contractors, and volunteers must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. City administrators announced the new policy on Sept. 13 in an email to city workers.

Bethel City Manager Pete Williams said that of the city’s 105 employees, only 16 are unvaccinated. He said that he expects some of those employees to quit their jobs over the new rules. The city will consider medical and religious exemption applications.


City employees can receive medical exemptions if they can prove they have a valid medical condition that would be made worse by the vaccine. The exemption must be signed by a licensed health care worker. 


The city is also offering a religious exemption application, which will then be reviewed by the Human Resources Department. If approved, the city said that it could still reassign the unvaccinated workers. 


An unvaccinated Bethel police officer called the new rules “forced termination.” Officer Skyler Smith said that he will not receive the vaccine for religious reasons and is planning to apply for a religious exemption. Smith described his beliefs as Christian non-denominational.

Correction: The original version of this story said 17 city of Bethel employees were unvaccinated against COVID-19 when the city announced its vaccine mandate. That is incorrect. Sixteen employees were unvaccinated. One employee was on leave when the city announced the mandate, and the city did not know that employee had been vaccinated.


Olivia Ebertz is a News Reporter for KYUK. She also works as a documentary filmmaker. She enjoys learning languages, making carbs, and watching movies.