Chicago to require city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: Nurse Michelle Evers holds the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination shots before people are inoculated at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., February 13, 2021. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

CHICAGO (Reuters) -All City of Chicago employees and volunteers will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that employees can apply for medical or religious exemptions.

The policy in the third-largest U.S. city comes as numerous other municipalities, school districts and governments across the nation grapple with masking and vaccination requirements as the spread of COVID-19 surges in the South here.

“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.

By the October deadline, the city’s 31,000 employees will be required to be two weeks past their second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks past a single-dose vaccine.

Employees will be able to apply for a medical or religious exemption, the mayor said.

The city’s police union said on Tuesday it opposes a vaccine mandate, adding that the city needs to negotiate this policy with unions.

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