No exemptions so far in San Francisco vaccine mandate

Source: Associated Press

About 800 San Francisco city workers have asked for medical or religions exemptions to avoid a looming deadline for them to get vaccinated or lose their jobs, but so far the city has not approved a single request, a human resources official said on Thursday.

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 3, 2021 file photo, a pharmacist holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. Janssen Pharmaceuticals is a division of Johnson & Johnson. On Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration said it is wrestling with whether and when recipients of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine need another dose — at six months or as early as two months. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

About 1,900, or 5.5 per cent of the city's 35,000-employee workforce, have not complied with the mandate to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by November 1, said Mawuli Tugbenyoh, chief of policy at San Francisco’s Department of Human Resources.

Police officers, firefighters and other employees who work in high-risk settings were expected to be vaccinated by Thursday. However, among that group 260 police, fire and sheriff's employees sought religious or medical waivers, he said.

Tugbenyoh said the requests were being reviewed “as quickly as possible,” but would not say how many have been considered and denied.

San Francisco announced the mandate on June 23, becoming the first large city in the country to require all of its employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, unless they have a valid religious or medical exemption.

Even if waivers are accepted, unvaccinated employees could still be reassigned to another role, put on leave, asked to work from home or let go from their jobs if they continue to refuse the shot, the human resources department said.

About 120 police officers face termination because they didn't meet Thursday's deadline, said Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association.

“With over 90 per cent of police officers vaccinated and more being vaccinated every day, the rush to fire cops makes little sense,” the union said in statement.

Police officials are prepared to reassign officers in case of a staffing shortage caused by employees who did not meet the deadline, Mayor London Breed told reporters.