San Francisco to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all city employees

San Francisco to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all city employees
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San Francisco on Wednesday announced that it would be requiring its thousands of city employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, making it one of the first major U.S. cities to impose such a mandate. 

Carol Isen, San Francisco’s director of human resources, told The New York Times and local news outlets that the mandate would take effect for the California city’s 35,000 workers once a coronavirus vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have only been approved for emergency use in the country, though both Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full FDA authorization.

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“At this point we are focused on compliance and helping our employees see their way through to getting themselves vaccinated,” Isen said. 

“What’s become clear in the science is that the vaccine is the best protection for our employees and for the public that we serve,” she added, according to local NBC affiliate KNTV. “So in order to allow our employees who have been vaccinated — and we believe that to be the majority of them — to work unmasked we have to know their status.” 

While the employees, which include workers at City Hall and police officers, may cite medical and religious exemptions, any other worker starting Monday will have 30 days to show proof of their vaccine status, Isen said. 

The Hill has reached out to San Francisco’s Department of Human Resources for additional information. 

The move comes as San Francisco has one of the highest vaccination rates of any city in the U.S., with Mayor London Breed (D) announcing earlier this month that 80 percent of city residents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

About 70 percent of people in San Francisco have been fully vaccinated, according to Breed’s announcement. 

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Vaccine mandates have become widely debated across the country, with local governments and companies questioning whether vaccine requirements should be put in place for individuals entering public buildings and certain businesses. 

Americans are largely split on requiring proof of vaccination before returning to work in person, according to an Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index poll released earlier this month. 

About 52 percent of respondents in the survey said they supported vaccine mandates at places of employment. Among Democrats, 76 percent supported such a move, with just 29 percent of Republicans expressing similar views.

A majority of Americans also said they were in favor of vaccine requirements for travel and large events.