San Francisco to require all city workers be vaccinated for COVID-19

SAN FRANCISCO – In an announcement on Wednesday evening, the city of San Francisco told its 37,000 employees that they would either need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their jobs within 10 weeks of the Food and Drug Administration’s final approval of a coronavirus vaccine .

This would make San Francisco the first major US city to require vaccination of all city employees.

“It’s simple – it’s my job to protect the safety of our employees, and I exercise my duty under the San Francisco Charter to do just that,” said Carol Isen, director of human resources for the city and county of San Francisco .

Currently, all COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States have been approved by the FDA under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization, an accelerated process. Emergency Response is an authority that Congress gave the FDA following the September 11th terrorist attacks to enable countermeasures, treatments, or vaccines to be available sooner than would normally be the case under the approval process.

The full drug approval process takes longer. Some have used the fact that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were all used in an emergency as a reason to doubt their safety.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech filed an application for full approval of their COVID-19 vaccine with the FDA on May 7th. Moderna did this on June 1st.

The San Francisco policy requires all employees to report their vaccination status to the city no later than July 29th as a condition of employment. To do this, they must upload a copy of their COVID-19 vaccination card or vaccination documentation from their healthcare provider.

Medical exemptions are available for employees with medical conditions that affect their eligibility for a vaccine, but must be verified by their doctor.

A “sincere religious belief that prohibits them from receiving a vaccine” could also be a reason for an exception, according to the city’s vaccination policy. These applications will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

“The burden would be on the worker to establish a genuine religious belief,” Isen said.

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Currently, about 60% of San Francisco employees have notified the city that they are vaccinated, Isen said.

The city informed the local unions that the request would come. Several unions that include city workers are already running vaccination stations in their union houses or holding vaccination fairs in the neighborhood. The city plans to meet with the unions later this week to further discuss the policy, Isen said.

The new policy protects employees and also saves tax money. Worker compensation claims for employees in San Francisco who are exposed to COVID-19 at work and unable to work because they have contracted COVID have already cost San Francisco nearly $ 3 million, Isen said.

“That is a great incentive for us, because these are costs that we have to bear – the simple, simple, safe and uncomplicated solution is that every employee can be vaccinated,” she says.

Isen said she hopes others will follow suit when the surrounding communities see what San Francisco has done.

“The science is absolutely clear,” said Isen. “When you are vaccinated, you have the force field. Unvaccinated you are really a great risk to yourself and the people around you.”

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