SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco is requiring all city employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Workers who do not comply could be disciplined and even fired.
“Employees with a medical condition or other medical restriction that affects their eligibility for
a vaccine, as verified by their medical provider, or those with a sincerely held religious belief
that prohibits them from receiving a vaccine, may request a reasonable accommodation to be
excused from this vaccination requirement,” the city said.
Starting Monday, city workers who are not exempt have 30 days to report whether they are vaccinated or not, and the documented proof is mandatory.
The policy covering 35,000 municipal workers may be the first by any city or county in the U.S.,
Workers need to give the name of the vaccine, date of vaccination and upload the documentation into the city’s system.
Officials say the city is using this information to enforce Cal/OSHA’s latest masking requirements.
Just last week — the state’s safety board said employees who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear face coverings inside or outside.
Those who are not vaccinated must wear a face covering indoors.
The city says vaccination is the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 transmission and limit hospitalizations and death.
“It’s really a decision for the health and safety of our employees and our public that we serve,” said Carol Isen, San Francisco director of human resources. “It’s about protecting the city as an employer from what we deem to be unacceptable risk.”
Under California law, employers can require their staff to get vaccinated as long as that requirement doesn’t interfere with the employees’ rights, said Leonard H. Sansanowicz, a Los Angeles employment attorney.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued guidelines in March that set forth the rationale for employers to mandate staff get vaccinated and that included requiring employers to accommodate those city workers who won’t get a vaccine due to religious beliefs or medical reasons, he said.
About 55% of city employees have said they are at least partially vaccinated, according to the Department of Human Resources. About 5% of employees have said they are not vaccinated. The vaccination status of the remaining 40% is not known.
The city is the second-largest employer in San Francisco after the University of California, San Francisco. Earlier this month, the University of California reversed course said it will require all students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated against the coronavirus this fall.
Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said protecting the workforce was especially important with the highly infectious delta variant gaining traction across the United States.
“Given that the delta variant is here and likely to increase in terms of its prevalence across the city, we need to do everything we can to protect our city workforce and the public we serve, especially as the city reopens,” Colfax said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.