Across California in recent weeks, many cities have been either introducing or preparing to introduce mandatory vaccination policies for all city workers, with only a few exemptions such as religion, and adverse health risks.
San Francisco was the first to do it last month due to new variants posing new risks, with many other cities in California and the nation either requiring vaccinations for city workers or opting for either vaccinations or constant negative testing for certain employees like New York will be starting in August. Earlier this week, Pasadena joined the growing list of cities that requires all city workers to vaccinate.
“While Pasadena’s case rates were lower than Los Angeles County’s rate last week, weekend case rates continued to climb,” said city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian on Wednesday. “Pasadena now meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of ‘substantial transmission’ of COVID-19.
“Currently, they are at approximately 60% of employees who attested to being vaccinated although with an upward trend in positive cases in city employees and the new variant in our community, a mandatory policy is the right thing to do to protect employees who at times spend more hours at work then home. The policy will be effective when there is official FDA approval for the vaccines. The City of Pasadena would be the first to initiate this policy in Southern California and the UC System recently announced they have a similar mandate.”
While many were in favor of the policy, it also left a number of city workers facing an impossible choice.
“It’s either go against my personal choice to not get it for numerous reasons and lose my job, or compromise all that and stay at work,” explained city employee “Neil” to the Globe on Friday. “I don’t think these things work 100%. The current surge, most people getting COVID did not get the vaccine, but 5% being hospitalized did, and look at what happened. But now, even though I personally don’t want to, it’s suddenly either face some sort of punishment or go against personal principles and do it.”
Those concerned about health risks and vaccine reactions have also questioned the vaccine, with some even being singled out by others for not already doing it.
“There’s also been bullying to get one from a lot of people,” said “Mary,” another city worker who spoke with the Globe. “In my office, being known as someone unvaccinated, well, they look at you differently. They don’t want to hear your side. One co-worker even kept telling me ‘I have kids. Get the damn vaccine.’ When I told him that I needed time because both my sister and my brother had really adverse affects to getting it and I wanted to make sure it was safe for me, he wouldn’t have it and accused me of being ‘a baby’. All I want to do is find out if I could be facing any harm from it, and here he is thinking that I’m doing this on purpose or something.”
A third city employee who already did vaccinate noted in an e-mail to the Globe on Friday that many felt that it being made mandatory was going to far.
“A lot of us really want everyone to vaccinate, but it isn’t right to try and coerce others who don’t want to do it. Many of us have said ‘Here’s the data that shows why you should get it‘, but most still don’t want to. What we though was going to happen was a choice between vaccinating or having to wear a mask and get constantly tested until the pandemic is over, which most of us thought was fair. This way they don’t have to vaccinate while the office can get back to normal.”
“Now the city is threatening to take away jobs and ruin families. And we want people to vaccinate and we want things to get back to normal, especially with this delta variant out there now. What we didn’t want was to wreck people’s lives and just force this on them. And now it’s a choice between vaccination or their job. Just like San Francisco. It really isn’t fair.”
The Pasadena vaccination requirement would only come into effect once there is FDA approval for COVID-19 vaccines. As of Friday, the city has not clarified if there will be a deadline for city employees like San Francisco instituted or what punishments, such as disciplinary actions or termination, would be given to those who don’t comply.
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