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San Francisco City Employees Respond to COVID Vaccine Mandate

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Officials in San Francisco announced this week that all city employees will be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but not everyone who works for SF is on board with the mandate.

The move does not include teachers, as they work for the school district, but more than 35,000 city employees will have to get their COVID vaccination. At the moment, there are a lot of questions about how that might work.

"So we are in favor of anybody and everybody being vaccinated," said President of Transport Workers Union Local 250-A Roger Marenco. "However, we are not in favor of forced, mandatory vaccines, whether that be due to personal beliefs, religious beliefs, political beliefs, health issues, safety issues, whatever the case may be."

That was the initial response from the union that represents San Francisco's Muni workers. As of lunchtime, they had been given few details on how the city plans to enforce the mandate.

"No, no guidelines," said Marenco. "It was pretty much just, 'Hey, this is what we're doing. Here it is, like it or not.'"

The city's police officers union has concerns about the policy.

"I just see it as extreme, but they would terminate someone over this," said San Francisco Police Sgt. Tracy McCray, Vice President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

The union that represents the city's firefighters is also weighing its options. They issued a statement saying they are "consulting with employment lawyers and working with labor partners to make sure that any mandate is implemented in a fair manner."

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said that the city might take certain exceptions under consideration, but seemed firm in her commitment to the mandate.

"We understand there might be medical reasons or health reasons people don't want to get the vaccine," Mayor Breed said Thursday. "Our human resources department will meet with people if they have a grievance and try to resolve it. But ultimately, it's something that we need to do. We need to make sure we not only protect the folks who work around people, but the public as well."

The city thinks somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of its workforce is already vaccinated. The mandate would take effect 10 weeks after the FDA gives a vaccine it's full approval.

"I think, probably, you might have some people that just want to wait for the FDA approval, before they get vaccinated," said McCray.

That remains to be seen, as do what kinds of exemptions the city will ultimately allow and how officials will respond to any pushback.

"This is going to be a very interesting new piece of policy here for the city and county of San Francisco," said Marenco. "We will deal with it as it goes along, but as I say, we are not in favor of mandatory vaccines."

City workers will have until July 29th to report their vaccination status to the city. The clock really starts ticking when the vaccines move beyond emergency authorization.

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