Oakland could soon be joining the growing list of cities across the country, requiring vaccines for all city employees.
The mayor wants it done by Nov. 1, and those who choose not to must have a medical or religious exemption.
But it’s not a done deal yet. The city’s labor unions must weigh in – and agree on what should happen to employees who refuse to follow the mandate.
Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstong is already vaccinated, and according to him, most of the officers on his force have received the jab as well.
“What we do know anecdotally is that nearly 80% of our officers have been vaccinated or has indicated that they have been vaccinated,” said Chief LeRonne Armstrong.
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Mayor Libby Schaaf is aiming for 100%. That’s why the city released this draft of a vaccine mandate, which would apply to 5,000 full-time and part-time city employees, including police officers and firefighters. A spokesperson for the Oakland Fire Department says 83% of their firefighters are vaccinated.
“I think we just want our employees along with community members to be safe, whether vaccinated or not,” said Armstrong.
Under the policy, employees would have until Oct. 15 to report their vaccine status to the city. Their deadline to get fully vaccinated is Nov. 1.
Those who do not want to be vaccinated must have a medical or religious exemption.
City contractors, vendors and those who visit city buildings are not covered by the mandate.
Schaaf released a statement saying, “We are determined to beat the pandemic, keep our community safe through science-based decisions and actions and instill trust in our residents that Oakland workers are vaccinated.”
“It has not gone into effect yet,” said Armstrong.
That’s because the city is still waiting on labor unions to look over the policy and agree on its terms – especially when it comes to handling city employees who refuse to follow the mandate. If the city decides on a “vax or lose your job” mandate, it could create staffing shortages that could trigger a different kind of public safety threat.
NBC Bay Area reached out to two local unions and did not hear back.