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Lightfoot Thwarts 2nd Challenge To City Workers Vaccine Mandate After Alderpeople Shun Meeting

Alderpeople who have criticized the vaccine requirement for city workers unsuccessfully pushed to scrap the mandate in October. Wednesday's meeting to consider changes to the policy was canceled after a few minutes.

Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd) speaks to Ald. Matthew O'Shea (19th) at a City Council meeting on June 25, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — An attempt to pressure Mayor Lori Lightfoot to change the vaccine mandate for city workers failed after not enough alderpeople showed up to a special City Council meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), presiding after Lightfoot refused to attend, called off the meeting after less than five minutes when only 17 alderpeople attended; 25 are needed for a quorum.

Alderpeople predominantly from the city’s Northwest and Southwest sides, home to many city workers including police officers and firefighters, called the meeting to consider a resolution to include someone’s “natural immunity” against COVID-19 in the policy for city workers to be vaccinated. 

Alds. Anthony Beale (9th); Marty Quinn (13th); Ed Burke (14th); Ray Lopez (15th); Derrick Curtis (18th); Matthew O’Shea (19th); Silvana Tabares (23rd); Felix Cardona (31st); Nick Sposato (38th); Samantha Nugent (39th); Anthony Napolitano (41st) and Jim Gardiner (45th) also signed a letter to Lightfoot last week, saying disciplining police officers for violating the vaccine mandate “presents a clear and present danger to the safety, security, and services to the residents we represent.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) speaks at a City Council meeting on Jan. 26, 2022.

Lightfoot labeled the meeting a “stunt” at an unrelated press conference Tuesday and said she would not cancel a fundraising trip to Miami to oversee it. Lightfoot also wrote a six-page response to the letter, saying it “contains a surprising level of misinformation and half truths.” The mayor criticized the group for not seeking information from Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on the city’s vaccine policy.

Lightfoot noted the city does not require COVID-19 testing for employees who have a vaccine exemption if they were diagnosed with the virus in the previous 90 days. 

“Per Dr. Allison Arwady, previous infection with COVID-19 does provide some limited immunity,” Lightfoot said. “But research has shown that the level of protection from natural immunity varies widely based on individual characteristics, is less predictable, and does not last as long as immunity provided by vaccines,.”

Lightfoot has said she will discipline city workers who violate the policy, but there will not be a “mass firing” of police officers.

Wednesday’s meeting was a second attempt to change to the city’s vaccine policy. A vote to repeal the mandate altogether failed in a 30-13 vote in October.

Lopez, a vocal Lightfoot critic who has led the fight against the vaccine mandate, vowed after the meeting “this isn’t going away” and criticized alderpeople who did not show up.

“People should be on the hook for their decision,” he said. “We sit in these chairs to vote and make decisions and if you’re going to buck that, if you’re too afraid to make a decision, leave.”

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