‘The vaccine is our greatest tool to save lives’: Richmond mayor announces new vaccine mandate for city employees

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 1:53 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond’s Mayor invoked a vaccine mandate for city employees, more than 3,000 of them.

“We think it’s necessary to keep our employees safe and also give confidence to the residents who are interacting with our employees on a regular basis as well and we have checked, we’ve run it through legal and all that. It checks all the boxes,” said Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond.

Stoney said employees must show vaccine documentation by August 18. All employees must be vaccinated by October 1, or face consequences.

Stoney says they don’t have an accurate count on who is vaccinated within their own ranks. A rough estimate stands at between 40% and 50%, much like the city population’s lagging vaccine rate.

“I think decisions like this are continued efforts to get out and ensure that people have access to vaccine and have access to the information they need to ultimately come to that decision,” said Dr. Danny Avula, State Vaccine Coordinator.

But, the requirement from the mayor does not cover school staff or some 500 employees who are outside of the mayor’s control.

There is an exemption for documented religious or medical reasons and if approved those folks would have to wear a mask and submit to COVID-19 testing.

“I think this is kind of the most acute time for people to really reconsider their stance because I am really concerned about the impact this is going to have on the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Avula.

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras says they are “seriously considering” this step as well. But school board member Jonathan Young says he’s against it, adding “a big-brother government mandate is precisely the wrong approach.”

Release from City of Richmond:

City of Richmond to mandate vaccination for city employees Richmond, VA — Today Mayor Stoney announced that the City of Richmond will require all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We take this step not only to ensure the health and safety of our employees and their families, but also to safeguard the comfort and well-being of residents, customers, visitors and the public at large,” said Mayor Stoney. “The vaccine is our greatest tool to save lives and truly beat this pandemic.”

Employees who are already vaccinated will be asked to prove their vaccination status through the Virginia Department of Health. Those who are not currently vaccinated are required to begin the vaccination process so that they are fully vaccinated by October 1.

When appropriate, medical and religious exemptions will be granted. Medical exemption requests must be signed by a licensed medical provider, and religious exemption requests must be notarized. All unvaccinated employees will be required to adhere to appropriate precautionary measures, in accordance with guidance from the Virginia Department of Health.

The policy will apply to all city employees, including those who telework. Those who do not comply will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the Department of Human Resources guidelines.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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