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Chicago announces COVID vaccine mandate for city workers

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has said it will oppose vaccine mandates


Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS

By Gregory Pratt
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — All city of Chicago workers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, though employees can apply for medical or religious exemption, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.

The move follows numerous private businesses and cities across the country which are implementing similar mandates, as has Cook County and Chicago Public Schools.

“As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, we must take every step necessary and at our disposal to keep everyone in our city safe and healthy,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Getting vaccinated has been proven to be the best way to achieve that and make it possible to recover from this devastating pandemic. And so, we have decided to join other municipalities and government agencies across the nation, including the U.S. military, who are making this decision to protect the people who are keeping our cities and country moving.”

Workers who wish to be exempt for medical or religious reasons must get approval from the Department of Human Resources which will consider the requests on a case by case basis, the city said.

More than 30,000 people are employed by the city. But not all are happy about the mandate. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has said it will oppose vaccine mandates.

[RELATED: LA City Council OKs vaccine mandate for city employees]

Chicago Federation of Labor head Bob Reiter released a statement saying the union believes the mandate might be counterproductive and “harden opposition to the vaccine instead of protecting the workers who have sacrificed so much over the past 18 months.”

“We are still in very preliminary discussions with the city about a proposed vaccination policy and we hope this process can be resolved through policymaking, not public communications,” Reiter said. “However, any discussion around a vaccine policy should include not only medical and religious exemptions, but also testing alternatives as we continue to build trust around the benefits of voluntary vaccination.”

Earlier this month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker required state employees who work in congregate settings, such as prisons and veterans’ homes, to be vaccinated by Oct. 4. The state’s largest employee’s union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has encouraged vaccination but opposes a vaccine mandate.

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