San Francisco will require all city employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 after the vaccines are granted full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or else they may lose their jobs.
Local officials said on June 23 that the roughly 35,000 municipal workers will be required to be inoculated against the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, with exemptions to be granted for medical or religious reasons.
Employees who refuse to do so will face “repercussions [that] go all the way up to termination,” Mawuli Tugbenyoh, chief of policy for the city’s Department of Human Resources, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“But we’re focused on the education and outreach part of it now.”
None of the vaccines currently being administered in the United States have yet been fully approved. All three are being used under emergency authorization, and it’s unclear when regulators will make a decision. Two of the vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States require two doses.
Beginning June 28, city employees will have 30 days to report their vaccination status. They will then be given 10 weeks after FDA approval to receive their COVID-19 jabs, and will be asked to submit their vaccination status through San Francisco’s payroll system, providing evidence such as a photo of their vaccination card.
Around 81 percent of San Francisco residents over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The concept of “vaccine passports” has been criticized by civil rights groups and Republicans as a potential invasion of privacy. Several Republican-led states have introduced measures to ban such passports from use. Florida’s Ron DeSantis became the first governor to issue an executive order that barred the use of vaccine passports.
At the time, DeSantis expressed concerns that “vaccination records are private health information,” adding that if a passport is needed to take part in everyday life, such as a sporting event, then such policies would “create two classes of citizens.”
States including Iowa, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, and Wyoming have followed suit with similar measures banning vaccine passports in certain settings, such as banning the need to show proof of vaccination as a condition to enter an area or to receive a government service, permit, or license.
Last month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced the No Vaccine Passports Act, to “prohibit any federal vaccine passport” system, and is seeking to bar the White House from “doing anything to mandate vaccines.”
“We’re seeing some places where employers are saying ‘if you’re not vaccinated, you’re fired,’ and that ought to be illegal. Your health decisions are yours to make, and it shouldn’t be your boss. It shouldn’t be the government. It shouldn’t be anyone else forcing you to make those decisions,” Cruz told Fox News.
Carol Isen, the human resources director for the city and county of San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle on June 23 that the decision was made “for the health and safety of our employees and our public that we serve.”
“It’s about protecting the city as an employer from what we deem to be unacceptable risk,” Isen said.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.