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Baker Mandates COVID Vaccines For 44,000 Executive Department Employees

BOSTON (CBS) -- Gov. Charlie Baker is requiring all Executive Department employees in the state to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The workers will need to get both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccines, or one shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Oct. 17, or risk losing their jobs.

Baker issued the executive order on Thursday, one day after saying he was "seriously considering" a vaccine mandate for state workers.

Executive Department employees will also be required to get booster doses by a yet-to-be determined deadline.

This affects roughly 44,000 executive department employees including some contractors. The administration does not have plans to offer the "test weekly and get out of vaccination" option, and rather says it will work with people to try and find a way to encourage them to get vaccinated with very few exceptions.

"It is very clear at this point that the vaccine is by far the most effective tool we have in our toolbox to make it possible for us to beat this thing, and as the largest employer in Massachusetts, we felt it was important for us to step forward and make a statement about the value and importance of getting vaccinated. I certainly hope many other employers will take a look at what we are doing here and follow suit," Baker said.

The only exemptions will be for employees with a medical excuse or "sincerely-held religious reasons" that prevent them from getting the vaccine.

The state Senate president praised Baker's decision on the vaccine mandate and said the Senate is considering something similar.

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