LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all city employees except for those who have medical or religious exemptions.
The ordinance passed unanimously, although Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and John Lee were absent from the vote.
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, but under the ordinance passed Wednesday, "only those with a medical or religious exemption and who are required to regularly report to a work location are eligible for weekly testing."
Under the passed ordinance, 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.
Exemption requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and be due by Sept. 7. People will 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 ordinance.
Mike Long of SEIU Local 721, which represents public service workers across Southern California issued the following statement:
"SEIU Local 721 strongly encourages all Los Angeles City workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. As a matter of fact, we’ve partnered with various City Departments to offer free mobile vaccination clinics at various worksites in the City… We know just how important it is to slow the spread of the Delta variant, and to protect frontline workers and the communities we serve. We recognize that some of our City workers are vaccine hesitant, and we will continue to strongly advocate with the City for a robust and frequent testing option for all workers who have yet to be vaccinated."
The board of directors with the Los Angeles Police Protective League released the following statement after hearing about the new vaccine requirement:
"We are actively engaged with the City in the meet and confer process over their proposed ordinance. We have many questions and concerns as to how this ordinance will impact our members and we are working to ensure our members are treated fairly and that the City follows the confines of our MOU as well as local, state, and federal laws."
An "urgency clause" that deems the proposed ordinance necessary "for the immediate protection of the public peace, health and safety" means it would become effective upon publication, instead of 30 days after finalization.
The ordinance needed unanimous approval upon its first reading Wednesday.
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