SAN DIEGO – San Diego County will require new employees to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, the latest local mandate aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
The requirement was approved in a 3-2 vote Tuesday night by the county’s Board of Supervisors with Supervisors Jim Desmond and Joel Anderson casting dissenting votes. It came following an update on the COVID-19 pandemic delivered by county public health officials and a lengthy public comment period where the majority of speakers challenged the county’s recent pandemic actions.
Speaking about her vote, Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Nora Vargas said she wants to “continue to emphasize the importance of folks getting the vaccine.”
“I am really very proud that in District 1 … almost 90% of the eligible residents in the region – one of the regions with the greatest health disparities – is fully vaccinated,” Vargas said. “I’m really proud of my community and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done together.”
To date, the county has reported a cumulative total of 359,167 COVID-19 cases and 4,092 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, including 658 new cases and two new deaths on Tuesday. This past week, the U.S. surpassed 700,000 COVID deaths in addition to tallying more than 43 million infections dating back to January 2020.
On the vaccine front, more than 4.76 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county with 88.2% of eligible residents have received at least one dose, City News Service reported. Some 2.2 million county residents, or nearly 79% of the eligible population, are fully vaccinated.
In recent months, vaccination mandates have been instituted in California, spanning from eligible students and school staff to state employees to health care workers. Some municipalities even have taken on the issue with Del Mar City Council voting last month to mandate the vaccine for all city employees.
But vaccination mandates have not been well received by all.
Following the San Diego Unified School District’s vote to require the vaccine for eligible students and employees, the group Let Them Choose argued the district didn’t have the authority to do so and threatened to file suit.
Addressing the room prior to his vote Tuesday night, Desmond said that he is “not in favor of mandatory vaccinations.”
“I’m vaccinated, but if you don’t want to, I’ll fight for your right not to have to,” Desmond said. “I also think it’s an emergency that we’re losing firefighters and nurses and policemen over this mandatory vaccination and people are losing their jobs. I really don’t think that’s appropriate and I don’t think kids 12 and under should have to get vaccinated, either.”
City News Service contributed to this report.