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San Diego tells city workers they must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 2

San Diego City Hall
San Diego City Hall.
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

The city of San Diego notified all 11,000 of its employees this week that they must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 2.

The email to San Diego city employees does not explain the rationale for the Nov. 2 deadline. Los Angeles issued a similar mandate last week requiring city workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 5.

Because a person is not considered fully vaccinated until 14 days after they have received their final dose of a vaccine, the deadline for San Diego city employees to complete their vaccinations is essentially Oct. 19.

The email says vaccinations are now required as “a condition of continued employment,” but it doesn’t specify how or when employees who decline to get vaccinated would lose their jobs.

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Employees will be allowed to apply for a medical or religious exemption, but the details of how those exemptions would work are still being negotiated by city officials and the six labor unions that represent city employees.

Those negotiations also will determine the fate of employees who decline to get vaccinated despite the mandate.

The email says state labor law allows the city to impose a vaccine mandate without union approval, but negotiations are required to determine the “impact” of the mandate and how exemptions would work.

The city recently began requiring its employees to disclose their vaccination status. Workers who have either disclosed that they are not vaccinated or who have refused to disclose their vaccination status are required to wear masks on the job.

State law requires that hospital workers be vaccinated, but many other kinds of workers who deal with the public, including government workers, had not faced such mandates. San Diego County earlier this month began requiring its 18,000 workers to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly COVID tests.

The email sent to San Diego city employees Thursday afternoon says the city’s decision was prompted in part by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision Monday to grant final approval to the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19.

Previously, the Pfizer vaccine only had “emergency use authorization.” The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines still have only emergency approval.

The email says any of the three vaccines will satisfy the new mandate. Workers can use time during work hours to get vaccinated, up to two hours per dose.

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Once labor negotiations are complete, the email says, the city will inform employees about the process for obtaining medical or religious exemptions.


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