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Unvaccinated LA City Workers Could Get Fired In December If They Don't Follow Vaccine Mandate

A medical professional wearing blue rubber gloves administers a vaccine into the right arm of a patient who has his right shirt sleeve pulled up.
A healthcare worker at UCI Health Center is vaccinated against COVID-19.
(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Thousands of unvaccinated Los Angeles municipal workers have until the end of day today to file for a religious or medical exemption to the city's vaccine mandate. Those who don’t get their exemption approved, or who remain unvaccinated for other reasons, could be fired in December, according to a statement from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

L.A. city officials have pushed the deadline twice since the COVID-19 vaccine mandate was passed in August. The new deadline is Dec. 18.

“Let me be clear: any employee who refuses to be vaccinated by this date should be prepared to lose their job,” Garcetti said in a statement issued Wednesday morning. “Employees must be vaccinated by December 18, and we are putting a rigorous testing program into place in the meantime.”

Under a plan that will go before the L.A. City Council next week, unvaccinated city employees will have $65 deducted from their paycheck twice a week to cover the cost of testing for the virus on their own time.

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Employees who apply for a medical or religious exemption may have to pay for the testing while their exemption is being considered. If approved, the cost will be refunded.

The city has been negotiating the vaccine requirement with labor unions for weeks, but the council’s resolution says they’ve reached a stalemate on the consequences of failing to comply with the mandate.

If the plan is approved, city employees who don’t show proof that they are vaccinated by Dec. 18 will face “immediate corrective action.”

Seventy percent of the city’s 53,000 workers are at least partially vaccinated, up from half in September. The data was released last week by the mayor’s office and broken down by department.

In total, about 21% of city workers have declined to provide vaccine information or haven’t reported their status. About 8% of city workers report not being vaccinated at all.

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The LAPD has 3,700 unvaccinated employees — including cops and civilian workers — and thousands of exemptions requested, which is the most of any department, though it is also the largest.

Six LAPD employees have filed a federal lawsuit against the mandate, claiming it violates their constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure without due process.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that municipal workers there, including firefighters and police officers, must get at least one vaccine dose by Oct. 29. Those who remain unvaccinated will be placed on unpaid leave until they show proof of inoculation.

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Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.