The Los Angeles City Council voted today to require Covid-19 vaccinations for all city employees except for those who have medical or religious exemptions. It’s the second Covid-related mandate the council has passed in the past week.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Nury Martinez announced on July 27 that city employees would be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a weekly negative Covid-19 test. Under the ordinance, “only those with a medical or religious exemption and who are required to regularly report to a work location are eligible for weekly testing.” The city is Los Angeles’s largest employer.
The County Board of Supervisors enacted a more restrictive vaccination mandate for Los Angeles County employees in early August that requires compliance by Oct. 1. The order goes beyond many of the recent orders from other officials at the federal, state and local levels in that it does not make an accommodation for those who do not wish to be vaccinated.
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The city ordinance requires non-exempt employees must receive their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer two-dose vaccine no later than Sept. 7, and their second dose no later than Oct. 5. Employees who choose to receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine would have to be inoculated by Oct. 5.
The ordinance includes the city’s first responders, such as police and firefighters, among whom there is reportedly some vaccine resistance. According to L.A. County outbreak data, there are currently seven LAFD stations experiencing outbreaks. So far during the pandemic, 2,759 of the LAPD’s 12,000 employees have contracted the virus, Chief Michael Moore said last week. That’s a 23% test positivity rate over the course of the pandemic. Countywide, the overall test positivity rate is 16%.
“You are either going to be vaccinated, if you don’t have an exemption, or you are not going to be able to be employed by the city,” said Council member Paul Krekorian.
Exemption requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and be due by Sept. 7. People would be qualified for an exemption if they have a medical condition or sincerely-held religious beliefs, practices or observances that prevent them from receiving the vaccine, according to the ordinance.
Employees who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or have not reported their vaccination status would be “ineligible to promote or transfer” until they are fully vaccinated, according to the draft ordinance.
An “urgency clause” that deems the proposed ordinance necessary “for the immediate protection of the public peace, health and safety” means it is effective upon publication, instead of 30 days after finalization.
The ordinance needed unanimous approval upon its first reading Wednesday to pass, which it got.
City News Service contributed to this report.