San Francisco deputies are threatening to quit if they’re required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the city has mandated.
In a Facebook post, San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association said the city's ultimatum would be met with resistance, up to and including leaving the department.
In a policy statement issued in June, city officials said the 35,000 public employees will have to be vaccinated once the vaccine receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
City workers who refuse and don’t get a medical or religious exemption could be fired, the news outlet reported.
"If deputy sheriffs are forced to vaccinate a percentage of them will retire early or seek employment elsewhere," the sheriffs’ association Facebook post stated, warning an exodus of deputies from the force is a consequence the city "can not afford."
"The majority of Deputy Sheriffs are vaccinated. Approximately 160 out 700 Deputy Sheriffs are not vaccinated prefer to mask and test weekly instead of being vaccinated due to religious and other beliefs. Currently, the staffing at the SFSO is at the lowest it has ever been due to the past 9-month applicant testing restriction placed on the Sheriff’s Office by the Mayor," the statement said.
"San Francisco cannot afford to lose any more deputy sheriffs or any first responders. If they retire early or quit this will affect public safety even more. We would like San Francisco to be in alignment with the state guidelines which are require vaccination or test weekly."
The SFDSA also asserted masks are key in their philosophy, and that science and data are in their favor.
"The SFDSA has always promoted COVID-19 Safety and has given out masks as well as face shields to first responders and the public during the peak of the pandemic. We believe the data and science speaks for itself and that masking works," the association wrote.
"The problem we are faced with now is the strict San Francisco Mandate which is vaccinate or be terminated. If deputy sheriffs are forced to vaccinate a percentage of them will retire early or seek employment elsewhere."
San Francisco city officials are giving workers 10 weeks after a vaccine is approved by the FDA to get their shots; three vaccines used in the United States are under emergency authorization by the FDA.
City officials denounced the union's position, coming days after seven Bay Area counties reinstated indoor masking requirements to stem transmission of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported.
"There is also an undue and unacceptable health and safety risk that is imposed upon the city, our employees and the public we serve, by those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19," the city's Department of Human Resources said in a statement, the AP reported. "Vaccines are safe, effective and readily available to our employees."
About 16% of sheriff's deputies, 17% of police, and 9.5% of fire department employees were not vaccinated as of Friday, according to city data obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. The average unvaccinated rate across all city departments is 7.7%.
Nancy Crowley, a spokesperson for the sheriff's department, said officials are working with the human resources department to obtain full compliance by the deadline.
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