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Wu: 94% of Boston City Workers in Compliance With Vaccine Mandate

Between Jan. 25 and Jan. 30, the city said no employees will be disciplined or placed on unpaid leave

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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu touted a 94% vaccination rate among city employees on Monday while announcing an extension to the deadline.

"I'm incredibly encouraged by this progress and we continue to have very productive conversations with our union partners about the collective bargaining impacts," Wu said. "We are giving this one more week to make sure that we realize that progress."

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Last month, Wu said all city employees would be required to have a first dose of COVID-19 vaccination by Jan. 15 and be fully vaccinated by Feb. 15, unless granted a reasonable accommodation for medical or religious reasons. The Jan. 15 deadline was then extended to Jan. 24.

City employees who do not prove they've been vaccinated were slated to be placed on unpaid leave starting Monday, but the mayor announced Sunday she extended that deadline to Jan. 30.

"As the City continues to have productive conversations with municipal unions, employees will have one more week to get into compliance with the City's vaccination policy," the city announced Sunday in a press release. "Between January 25th and January 30th, 2022, no employees will be disciplined or placed on unpaid leave."

The move by Mayor Michelle Wu comes as first responders ramp up protests of the mandates.

Wu said city officials will continue communicating with its employees and supporting access to vaccinations before Jan. 30 as they work to achieve their goal of vaccinating the entire workforce. As of Monday18,270 city employees submitted proof of vaccination. Wu did not know the exact number of employees who are not in compliance.

Since Dec. 20, more than 1,600 employees have submitted proof of vaccination. More than 94% of the entire city of Boston workforce are vaccinated and in compliance with the city's new policy, Wu said Monday.

Along with the employee vaccine mandate, Wu also announced the B Together indoor vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms and indoor recreational facilities. That mandate went into effect last week.

Boston Public Health Commissioner Bisola Ojikutu said the city has seen a "significant" increase in new vaccination uptake. From the first to second week in January there was a 36% increase citywide, then from the second to the third week, another 17% increase. Overall, 70% of residents are fully vaccinated and more than 82% have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the city's coronavirus metrics are trending in the right direction, according to Ojikutu. Boston recently reported record-high positivity rates over 32%. As of last Friday, the community positivity rate was at 18.9%.

Though Boston continues to report an increase in new cases, new cases are down about 50% from the previous week and emergency department visits are down by 16%. Hospitalizations, however, are up 12% from the previous week.

"I think things are overall going in the right direction," Ojikutu said. "We need to continue to be cautious, continue to mask, continue to test and isolate in order to get through the surge."

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