NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP)– The Northampton Board of Health has decided not to vote on a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for some businesses in the city.

According to a news release sent to 22News by Merridith O’Leary, Northampton’s Public Health Director, the decision was made at Thursday night’s meeting after discussion of current COVID-19 based data from board members and input from the community.

In December the Board had considered vaccine requirements for persons ages 5 and older as extra protection in businesses such as restaurants, bars, clubs, and gyms. The Board found that “this requirement would have made sense if the recent surge in transmission is driven by the original strain of the virus, which the vaccines were developed to protect against with great efficacy, as well as if it were certain that such requirements would markedly reduce transmission in these settings as well as in the general population. However, with mutations that have occurred in the virus and with breakthrough infections occurring in vaccinated individuals, this is not the case.”

“The Board of Health will not be discussing vaccine requirements at future meetings unless data suggests that such a requirement would be necessary or beneficial,” said O’Leary.

The Board continues to urge the public to wear masks in public settings, to social distance, wash hands, and to isolate when exposed to, testing positive for, or ill with COVID-19. The next meeting will be held January 20, 2022, with public comments beginning at 5:30pm.