Western Bay of Plenty District Council is consulting on mandating vaccinations for all essential and customer-facing roles in a call to better protect the community from Covid-19.
Council chief executive John Holyoake accepted job losses were a "reality" in a worst-case scenario under the proposed measures.
A draft policy proposing to make vaccinations mandatory among key staff was now out for consultation and could come into effect from December 1.
Holyoake said the council team had spent two months discussing the vaccination issue, prompting concerns about how to best protect people using its services and facilities while preventing the spread of Covid-19.
"A whole lot of people use our facilities but we also go into a lot of people's whare, we go into vulnerable communities every day. We go to marae, go to some pretty remote spaces where we probably have some of the lowest vaccination rates."
Holyoake said there were also critical council roles - such as in the water services team - where the council's ability to treat the district's water supply could be crippled if someone became infected.
"Personally, I find this really tricky. We have a responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act to make sure all our people are safe and communities are safe. But at the same time, I have to make decisions that are impacting people's personal rights to make choices.
"Some people are nervous about it. It's hard but I feel we have to sway on the side of health and safety. It's a public health issue."
About 85 per cent of the council team were already vaccinated and those who chose not to could be redeployed into other roles - limiting their physical contact with others - or in the worst case, they could lose their job.
Holyoake was worried about Auckland's borders being lifted and what that meant for the Bay, which was "pretty low in vaccinations".
"What's going to happen when we start seeing all these people in Auckland coming home to their holiday homes, marae or their family?"
As of November 10, 73 per cent of Bay of Plenty District Health Board area eligible residents had received both vaccinations, while 85 per cent had received their first.
"I'm nervous that some of our more vulnerable people aren't going to be prepared. How do we, as a community, best prepare for that? It's only a matter of time. It's on all of us to be prepared as best we can but also as a community.
"That's the challenge for us as leaders. Councils, other corporates, district health boards, local politicians, what are we all going to do between now and Christmas to support our community?"
Other Bay of Plenty councils have taken a different approach.
Tauranga City Council general manager of people and engagement Susan Jamieson said it was waiting for more Government direction.
Asked what precautions the council was taking to protect people using its facilities and services, Jamieson said it was preparing for potentially more mandates by assessing all roles, primarily public-facing roles.
"We expect more clarity at the end of November on how upcoming changes such as mandatory vaccinations, requirements for employers, and changes to the alert level system will affect councils."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council chief executive Fiona McTavish said the council would not make vaccines mandatory but it "strongly encouraged all staff to get vaccinated".
Risk assessments suggested mandatory vaccinations were not needed yet and a core value of the council was manaakitanga, "and part of manaakitanga is respecting other people's views even when they are different to our own", McTavish said.
"This is inclusion in action and is core to who we are at Toi Moana (regional council).
"While we won't be mandating vaccines for all staff, there may be times when we need to consider vaccines requirements."
This would be under a Government health order; if a health and safety risk assessment identified the need to; and if council staff could not perform their roles due to third-party requirements such as restricted access by vaccines mandates, McTavish said.
All councils said they were adhering to Government guidelines to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 through regular washing of hands, scanning in, staying home if feeling ill, wearing of masks, and social distancing.
It is expected Auckland could move to the traffic light system by November 29, due to high vaccination levels.