Vaccination deadline arrives for San Francisco's first responders

It's deadline day for San Francisco's first responders to be fully vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. At this point, those separation notices are not going out. The city is giving employees every minute of the day, until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to update their vaccine status.

Since June, San Francisco has been telling city workers to get vaccinated. The health order saying workers who have occasional high-risk COVID-19 exposure including firefighters and police officers had until October 13, to vaccinate or risk separation from their city jobs.

The city's human resources department said they are stretching that deadline as long as possible to allow employees to enter their vaccine information up until the last possible moment. 

"Would just say, it's certainly never been the goal at any step of this process for the city to separate any employee," Mawuli Tugbenyoh from San Francisco Human Resources Department.

The latest data from human resources point to about 150 police employees, sworn officers and civilian employees have yet to update their vaccination status and the fire department confirms that 41 fire firefighters are in the same situation. If the deadline is missed 120 officers could be out of a job. 

SEE ALSO: No major religion opposes the COVID vaccine, but exemptions are still being granted

Human resources is still trying to determine just how many employees will receive notices from the city that they are out of compliance. "We're still in ongoing discussions with our labor partners and I know that they would agree that our highest priority is to make sure that our workers are safe in the workplace and that we're also protecting the public," said Tugbenyoh.

San Francisco's Police Officers' Association said last-minute negotiations are still underway, and that notices to workers could go out as early as Thursday. Human Resources says city-wide their office has received about 800 requests for medical or religious exemptions, so far none has received final accommodations for those exemptions.

Mayor London Breed weighing in as well, said the overwhelming majority of city workers have complied with the health order, and first responders have shifted workers to cover any gaps left by unvaccinated police officers or firefighters who cannot work. 

"We have already worked with those various departments in order to not only rearrange schedules and move existing resources to those locations, but also to speed up our hiring process to accommodate what could potentially be some vacancies," said Mayor Breed.

City H.R. officials said about 5.5% of the city's 35,000-employee workforce have not complied with the mandate to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1. 

San Francisco's Police Officers Association released a statement where they turn their attention to SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin. The POA seems to be directing their vaccine mandate frustration at the D.A. Their statement reads in part, "This is nothing more than defunding the police masquerading as a vaccine mandate, the only people this makes happy are criminal enablers such as Chesa Boudin," said Tracy McCray from the Police Officers' Association.

There was no indication Boudin has expressed this sentiment. 

Because the city is trying to push that deadline as far as it can go we will have a better idea Thursday or Friday of how many city employees came into compliance at the last minute.