East Brunswick has done an about face and rescinded its vaccination requirement for municipal employees.

Mayor Brad Cohen, who implemented the policy via an administrative order, made the announcement during Monday night's Township Council meeting. He citied changes in the science and CDC guidance that shows there is no difference in the risk of being exposed to COVID between those who are unvaccinated and those who are not.

"In the last week, medical information that's been provided to the CDC and their own guidelines have shown that the viral carriage rate is equal in people who are vaccinated versus those who are unvaccinated, meaning that risk of acquiring COVID from somebody vaccinated or not is hard to distinguish," Cohen told New Jersey 101.5.

"If it's not something that you can justify by separating out and identifying the people who are vaccinated as people who are more likely to spread disease, then there isn't really a point to  put in a requirement that people be vaccinated," Cohen said.

Under the now-rescinded requirement, municipal workers would have had until September 30 to provide proof of vaccination. Cohen said discussions were underway with the union representing municipal workers about the requirement but it was rescinded before they came back with a formal response.

The mayor, who is also a physician, said reaction to the requirement from residents was mixed but he didn't make decisions based on public opinion.

"Some people were very happy about it other people were not. I don't think we did a poll of it. Letters that came into the office were equally mixed in terms of some people who thought it was the right thing to do and others who thought it was an infringement," Cohen said. "But I made the decision on the science not on the politics and not on letters, which often really go back to politics."

Cohen said vaccinations should never have been politicized.

"Information comes out, leads you to think differently. That's how science works. It's dirty, it's not 100% and we try to make the best decisions based on the best available evidence at any time," Cohen said.

Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla also instituted a vaccination requirement for municipal employees, who must otherwise get test weekly. He asked private employers in the city to consider implementing a similar mandate for their employees.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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