Wu extends deadline for city employees to comply with vaccine mandate

Mayor Michelle Wu on Jan. 24 announced that she has pushed back the date for city workers to comply with her vaccine mandate. 

The mandate was originally set to take effect on Jan.15, and those found to not be in compliance would be placed on unpaid administrative leave starting on that date. It had been extended again until Jan. 24, and is now being extended once more to Jan. 30. Employees must prove that they’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine by then.

“As you’ve seen, we are giving our employees one more week to get vaccinated, and that means that there will be no unpaid leave between January 25 and January 30,” Wu said at Monday’s press conference. Wu said that conversations are continuing with unions, some of which have expressed opposition to the mandate. 

Wu said that more than 94 percent of city employees are fully vaccinated, which amounts to 18,720 employees.

“I’m incredibly encouraged by this process,” Wu said. 

Wu also said that “almost every department is at more than 90 percent vaccination rate across the city.” She said that 94 percent of Boston Public Schools employees are fully vaccinated, along with more than 95 percent of the Boston Police Department, 91 percent of the Boston Fire Department, 95 percent of the Boston Public Library employees, 96 percent of the Inspectional Services Department employees, and 97 percent of the Boston Parks Department.

There are also some city departments where 100 percent of employees are fully vaccinated—these include the Registry and Treasury departments, as well as the City Clerk’s office, the Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, Youth Employment and Engagement, and Office of Streets, Wu said.

Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said that vaccination remains the best way to “mitigate the impact of COVID-19.”

She also said that vaccine clinics were held for employees of the Boston Public Schools, Boston Fire Department, and Boston Police Department.

“There is a bit of reason to be hopeful right now in the City of Boston,” Ojikutu said. She said that vaccination rates have increased recently, and that 70 percent of Bostonians are fully vaccinated, while more than 82 percent have received at least one dose.

Ojikutu also spoke about current COVID trends, saying that at its highest, the city’s positivity rate was more than 32 percent, but for the week ending on Jan. 21, the positivity rate was 18.9 percent.

She said that though the city continues to see new COVID cases, the number of new cases is down 50 percent, and the number of COVID-related emergency room visits is down 16 percent.

Hospitalizations, however, are still “extraordinarily high,” Ojikutu said, and are up 12 percent from last week.

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