City of Berkeley requires vaccine mandate for all city employees

Photo of a COVID vaccine
Tom Wolf/Creative Commons
With the reopening of city services, the city of Berkeley requires city employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15 unless they requested an exemption. Photo by Governor Tom Wolf under CC BY 2.0.

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The city of Berkeley issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate requiring all city employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15.

The policy was adopted Sept. 15, a day after Berkeley City Council passed a resolution recognizing the need to immediately adopt a vaccination policy applicable to all city employees, including interns and volunteers.

Employees may request an exemption by Oct. 15 to this policy due to “documented medical necessity” or “sincerely held religious belief” prohibiting them from receiving a vaccine, the Employee Vaccination Policy report stated.

As the city reopens services and returns more employees to the workplace, the city aims to provide a “safe and healthy workplace,” complying with public health guidelines, according to the report.

When the report was released, California was experiencing the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases during the entire pandemic, with 23.7 new cases per 100,000 people per day as of Sept. 1, 2021, the policy report added.

As of Nov. 15, there are 5,161 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkeley and 88% of Berkeley residents are fully vaccinated, the city COVID-19 dashboard notes.

“The good news is that the vaccination rate among Berkeley residents is already very high,” said Berkeley City Auditor Jenny Wong. “I think it is important that the vaccination rate among city workers is also high.”

One is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks after a single dose of a one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, the report stated.

The policy requires employees to report their employee ID number, department and vaccination status, copy of verification documentation and the type of vaccine received by Oct. 15.

In addition, all newly hired or rehired employees must also be fully vaccinated and must report their vaccination status to the city before their first day of employment, according to the report. Employees who are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated as of Nov. 1 are required to be tested at least once weekly.

“Failure to comply with any aspect of this policy or any state or local health order requiring vaccination and/or testing pertaining to COVID-19 to which the City is subject (incorporated herein by reference) may result in discipline, up to and including termination from employment,” the report states.

Regardless of vaccination status, all employees must continue to wear face coverings over the mouth and nose.

Face coverings are required in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings and workplaces, complying with the city Health Officer Order for the Wearing of Face Coverings in Indoor Settings.

“The (city of Berkeley) adopts this policy to protect the health of its vaccinated and unvaccinated workforce and the health of the members of the public that the COB serves, and specifically to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace,” the policy report states.

Contact Winnie Lau at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @winniewy_lau.