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Unvaccinated L.A. County Workers Have Another 45 Days To Get Shots

A person in a green plastic glove holds a blank COVID-19 vaccination record card.
A healthcare worker displays a COVID-19 vaccine record card.
(Nathan Howard
Getty Images)
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Today was the deadline for all Los Angeles County employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but those who aren’t have another 45 days to comply.

The vaccination order — issued by county supervisors in September as the delta variant increased the spread of COVID-19 — covers all Los Angeles county employees, including sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, social service workers, public works employees and health care workers.

“I am pleased that as of yesterday, 76% of our employees have entered their [status] into our system and, of those, more than 86% are fully vaccinated,” County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis said Friday in a written statement. “Of course, we want and expect our vaccination rates to increase, and that is why we will continue to focus on education, outreach, and accessibility.”

That still leaves tens of thousands of workers' vaccination status in question. County employees have to upload proof that they are vaccinated into the county database and can’t rely on solely giving their word.

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Those employees can expect to receive a notice, informing them they have 45 days to register as fully vaccinated.

“The 45-day notice is a recognition that those who do choose to comply cannot do so immediately because of the time required to finish the common two-shot regimens of Pfizer and Moderna,” said county spokesperson Jesus Ruiz in a written statement.

That pushes the deadline for compliance to mid-November. Employees who remain unvaccinated without a medical or religious exemption may face termination beyond that point, though one department appears to be lenient.

L.A. County Department of Public Health officials announced that its workers who remained unvaccinated after a Sept. 30 state health worker deadline are being reassigned rather than fired. (Medical personnel at county hospitals are employed by the L.A. County Department of Health Services.)

The county is continuing negotiations with labor unions, whose leaders want more lax standards for medical and religious exemptions to the mandate.

Rhetoric on both sides escalated as the deadline drew near. Earlier this week, union representatives for L.A. County’s approximately 108,000 employees called the Oct. 1 deadline for their members to be fully vaccinated “unreasonable” and a “scare tactic.”

SEIU 721, which represents more than 55,000 employees, wants the county to allow workers who are reluctant to get the shot to instead have regular testing for the virus.

“The county is not offering regular testing in lieu of vaccination on an ongoing basis for those who do not wish to be vaccinated for personal reasons,” wrote county spokesperson Jesus Ruiz “The county is prepared to offer regular testing as a reasonable accommodation for those with medical or closely held religious beliefs that conflict with vaccination. The county may require regular testing for those pending a decision on their request for accommodation or for those not yet in full compliance.”

Discussions between unions and the county will continue on Oct. 7. While those talks continue, the county is also working to educate its employees about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and collect all the vaccination data in one place, CEO Fesia Davenport told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

“We have some departments that ... uploaded their information into a departmental developed system. And we are working with those departments to transfer that information into our system so that we can have more complete information,” Davenport said.

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Frank Stoltze contributed to this report.