San Diego Moves Forward with Employee Mandate on COVID-19 Vaccine


COVID-19 vaccines are offered in Chula Vista. Photo by Chris Stone

Mayor Todd Gloria announced on Friday that the city will move forward with its requirement that all city employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 1 as a condition of employment.

“The way out of this pandemic is through vaccines – and the city of San Diego will lead by example,” said Gloria. “With city employees interacting with members of the public on a regular basis, this vaccination mandate becomes even more necessary – not only to protect the public, but also to protect our city workers. “

Since the announcement of the mandate on August 26, the City has negotiated with five of its six recognized union organizations. He is currently at an impasse with the San Diego Police Officers Association, which has vigorously opposed the vaccination warrants.

Gloria will ask city council to impose the vaccination mandate on employees represented by the SDPOA and to codify the COVID-19 vaccination policy in a city ordinance during a council meeting on November 29.

The city will grant medical and religious exemptions on a case-by-case basis, as required by law. Any city employee who refuses to be vaccinated and does not benefit from an exemption will be fired.

“I support Mayor Todd Gloria’s mandate to vaccinate city workers,” said council chair Jennifer Campbell. “Billions of people around the world have been safely vaccinated and protected themselves, their families and communities from COVID-19, which still claims more than a thousand American lives every day.

“As public servants, it is our duty to protect the city of San Diego and its residents from this deadly and contagious disease,” Campbell said.

The city will continue to allow its employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while they are on the clock, Gloria’s office said. To help employees comply with the mandate and receive their first and second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, San Diego offered on-site and walk-in vaccination opportunities at various facilities around the city and across the city. city.

“The city of San Diego has lost many of our valuable workforce to COVID-19 who were not vaccinated,” said City Councilor Marni von Wilpert, co-chair of the response and recovery committee COVID-19 from the city council. “It is imperative that we keep our dedicated city employees healthy and able to perform their duties of serving the residents of San Diego.”

“Last month I tested positive for COVID-19 and although I was very symptomatic, I am very lucky because I was vaccinated, I am still alive today”, a- she declared. “Requiring vaccinations for city workers is a necessary step to save lives now and for the government to continue to function to ensure our continued recovery from this devastating pandemic. “

In a survey released in September, about 90% of the 733 San Diego Police Officers Association surveyed believed the vaccine should be an individual choice. More than 300 officers said they would rather be sacked than forced to be vaccinated.

SDPD chief David Nisleit said the possibility of losing officers due to vaccination warrants was an issue.

“It’s worrying, the possible impacts if we were to lose officers, look at this police service, our ratio of officers to citizens is the second lowest in this country, so that obviously has an impact on our ability to respond to the situation. crime, ”he said. .

Gloria did not back down from the SDPOA challenge.

“We will do everything we can to retain valuable members of our organization, but if people choose to go elsewhere, we will do our best to recruit top-notch and first-class talent,” Gloria said at the press conference. time.

On November 1, city workers were allowed to submit requests for reasonable accommodation and medical or religious exemptions from the vaccination policy.

“We demand that our employees adhere to the same standards as this mayor, which this city council has adhered to,” said Councilor Joe LaCava. “Unvaccinated and unprotected employees simply cannot serve the public, which includes the immunocompromised, the elderly and the vulnerable.

“To effectively provide the necessary services and protections, the city must employ and enforce a vaccination mandate,” he said.

To date, nearly 1,300 city employees have been infected with COVID-19 in all departments. San Diego has experienced staffing issues due to illness or quarantine of staff due to exposure to COVID-19, Gloria’s office said.

As an example, Gloria said COVID-19 infections have caused delays in garbage collection in 45 waste routes, 1,030 recycling routes and 45 green routes since July 2020. These delayed routes have affected more than 1.3 million residents of the city, some on multiple occasions.

Additionally, due to the increase in positive tests, the San Diego Police Department had to suspend police academy operations twice. The San Diego Fire Department also had to temporarily shut down two fire academies and make changes to operational protocols when more than 30 staff were isolated at any given time due to positive COVID-19 tests.

–City news service

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