City Workers Must Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, Lightfoot Announces

Video: Our Spotlight Politics team dissects the Chicago police union president’s foul-mouthed fury against the mayor’s vaccine mandate, and more. (Produced by Alex Silets)

City workers have until Oct. 15 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.

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The full authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday paved the way for Lightfoot to require that all city employees and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19. All employees and volunteers must get the final dose of any of the three federally approved vaccines by Oct. 1 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the October deadline.

Chicago Public Schools officials announced Aug. 13 that all teachers and staff must be vaccinated by Oct. 15.

“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. We have also been in close communication with our partners in the labor movement to create a vaccination policy that is workable, fair and effective.”

However, Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter Jr. said the city had yet to reach an agreement on a policy requiring vaccines for the city’s 31,000 workers with the unions that represent the majority of employees.

“In fact, we believe this announcement may harden opposition to the vaccine instead of protecting the workers who have sacrificed so much over the past 18 months,” Reiter said. “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.”

The mandate is likely to trigger a legal battle with the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, which represents the city’s 12,000 rank-and-file officers. In a statement posted to the union’s Facebook page, leaders said they were “100% opposed to MANDATORY vaccinations” and vowed to fight the requirement.

Employees will submit their proof of vaccination via a “secure, online COVID-19 Vaccine Portal” administered by the city’s Department of Human Resources, according to the mayor’s office.

City workers can apply for medical or religious exemptions to the mandate, which will be reviewed by city officials “on a case-by-case basis,” officials said.

Cardinal Blase Cupich said Friday that he has instructed pastors in the Archdiocese of Chicago not to grant religious exemptions to the vaccine, saying that is not supported by church teachings or law.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Friday that all employees of the office of the president as well as those covered by Cook County Employment Plan have until Oct. 15 to be fully vaccinated.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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