‘Our protection is paramount’: Locals react to vaccine mandate for city workers

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – More than 11,000 people work for the city of San Diego and come Nov. 2, every single one of them will need to be vaccinated “as a condition of continued employment.”

City officials announced Thursday they are requiring workers such as librarians, firefighters, police officers and lifeguards as those needing the COVID-19 vaccines.

San Diego resident Kenneth Hale says firing employees is “pretty severe,” but thinks “our protection is paramount.”

“When I go indoors, I wear masks. Yea, I would feel safer,” Hale said. “If they were doing testing periodically for those that didn’t get vaccinated, I would be fine with that as well.”

Most of San Diego’s major labor unions approve of the mayor’s vaccine mandate. In fact, a handful even told FOX 5 that they were already negotiating terms of a deal when the city suddenly pushed out the mandate — a mandate which lists exceptions for those with medical and religious exemptions.

However, some unions say it does not give enough details on how to prove those exemptions.

“[We are] disappointed by what we believe to be a premature communication from the City’s middle-management which lacks the necessary detail to seek these lawful exemptions,” said Jesse Conner, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 145. “The recent letter was unnecessarily threatening to workers as it coupled a looming deadline with uncertainty.”

With the deadline a little over two months away, some departments brace for impacts. The local lifeguard union reports that 80% of their full-time employees are vaccinated, but less than 60% of their seasonal staff have been confirmed as having the shots.

“I think they had to go drastic because people weren’t doing it,” said Joann Herbert, a San Diego resident who stopped by a city library Friday. “We’re all sick and tired of what we’ve been going through for a year-and-a-half and this is the way to get out of it — seems clear and simple to me.”

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