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All Chicago City Workers Must Be Fully Vaccinated By Oct. 15, Lightfoot Says

The city's largest police union has vowed to fight the move.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are administered by Jewel-Osco pharmacists to union workers at the IUOE Local 399 union hall ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris's visit to discuss vaccine rollouts and union work in Chicago on April 6, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — All city of Chicago workers and volunteers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.

Lightfoot had vowed earlier this week to require vaccines for city workers, but the Chicago police union said it would put up a fight. On Wednesday, Lightfoot officially announced a vaccine requirement will go into place 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 news release. “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.”

Unions are already pushing back against the mandate.

“We believe in the benefits of vaccination to help protect workers and residents, but we do not believe punitive mandates are the right path to significantly increase vaccine uptake,” Bob Reiter, Chicago Federation of Labor president, said in a news release. “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.

“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. However, any discussion around a vaccine policy should include not only medical and religious exemptions, but also testing alternatives as we continue to build trust around the benefits of voluntary vaccination.”

The policy will apply to all city workers and volunteers, though employees can apply for a medical or religious exemption, according to a Mayor’s Office news release. City employees will have to submit their proof of vaccination on a secure, online portal.

Chicago Public Schools has already mandated all teachers and staff be vaccinated by Oct. 15, but the city has been bargaining with unions over a similar mandate for its workers.

“We are not just going to to roll over and play dead for the mayor,” John Catanzara, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge, told ABC7 on Monday. “She’s not going to force this down our throats without a fight. We’ll take it to the courts if necessary.”

The mandate comes as Chicago is experiencing another wave of COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. Officials have urged people to get their shots so they can protect themselves and their communities and help end the pandemic.

The federal government plans to roll out a booster campaign Sept. 20, allowing people to get a third shot of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to ensure they’re best protected against COVID-19. And earlier this week, the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine.

The move spurred various businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations to require workers to get vaccinated. United Airlines, which is headquartered in Chicago, is mandating workers get fully vaccinated now that a vaccine has gotten full approval.

A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

City data shows more than 1.47 million Chicagoans — or 54.9 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated. About 60.4 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

The vaccines have been shown to largely prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6.7 million people — or 52.74 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 24,196 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 13,861,875 vaccine doses of the 16,000,255 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.47 million Chicagoans — or 54.9 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated. About 60.4 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Forty Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Tuesday.

• At least 23,816 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,519 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 4,451 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,499,022.

• Since Tuesday, 78,206 tests were reported statewide. In all, 28,393,030 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 5.1 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 5 percent Tuesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.8 percent. It was also at 5.8 percent Tuesday.

• As of Tuesday night, 515 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 240 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, seven deaths were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 5,598 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three deaths per day, a 35 percent increase from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 565 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 300,444 confirmed cases. An average of 436 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 3 percent decrease from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has is unchanged since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent the week prior.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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