Eleven alderpeople invoked state law to call a special meeting of the Chicago City Council for 2 p.m. Wednesday in an effort to pressure Mayor Lori Lightfoot to revise her requirement that all city employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
It is the second time in six months that alderpeople have called an emergency meeting of the City Council to publicly push back against Lightfoot’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The alderpeople demanded the session one day after the deadline for Chicago Police Department members to get at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The measure set for consideration Wednesday calls on city health officials to make COVID-19 policy that includes “natural immunity.”
Those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and recovered from it have some level of protection against the virus, said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Department of Public Health. However, the best protection against COVID-19 comes from one of the three vaccines approved by federal health officials, which does not come with the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, Arwady said.
Data released Monday by Lightfoot’s office shows 2,367 members of the Chicago Police Department are not vaccinated. Another 199 members of the department never reported whether they had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
That is equivalent to 20.7% of the department, according to city data.
Lightfoot told reporters Wednesday she would enforce the vaccine mandate, and expected the majority of officers get vaccinated before facing termination. Thirty members of the Chicago Police Department and 19 members of the Chicago Fire Department are not being paid because of their refusal to get vaccinated as of Monday, according to the mayor’s office.
Lightfoot blasted the City Council members who called the special meeting, saying they had failed to study the issue.
“I don’t know what world these people live in,” Lightfoot said. “And I certainly wouldn’t expect that from elected leaders in the city of Chicago. Maybe some other place. Maybe some other party.”
Forcing the special meeting is a “stunt,” Lightfoot said.
Officers and other city employees who refuse to get vaccinated will be disciplined — but there will be no “mass firings,” Lightfoot said.
An effort at an October special meeting to roll back the vaccine mandate for city employees won just 13 votes.
Twelve of those alderpeople renewed their demand Lightfoot lift the mandate on Friday, because the potential termination of police officers presented a “clear and present danger to the safety, security and services” demanded by Chicago residents.