Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Wednesday that the local government would require all city workers to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, a requirement that a leading police union in the region vehemently opposed.
The president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, said that they were 100% opposed to mandating vaccines to their members. In an interview, the official said that the COVID-19 vaccines had no studies for long-term side effects or consequences. He said it was a "Hell, no" because of the lack of safety data to support the mandate.
Chicago's Vaccine Mandate
Additionally, Catanzara urged all police unions to join in solidarity to oppose the vaccine mandates. He said that it was not just members of his union that was opposed to the requirements, but also other sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. He said that all four unions were united in their stance, Yahoo News reported.
Lightfoot's new policy will be effective for more than 30,000 employees in the region, including police officers, firefighters, park employees, and sanitation workers. However, staff can still file for medical or religious exemptions to keep them from being punished for not getting the vaccines.
In a statement, Lightfoot argued that the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the country has forced officials to take drastic steps necessary to curb the spread. The Chicago mayor said the vaccinations have proven to be the best way to protect residents from getting infected with the coronavirus or preventing severe symptoms and hospitalizations in breakthrough cases.
The official said they have made the choice to join other municipalities in trying to recover from the devastating pandemic. The United States military has implemented similar requirements to its soldiers to keep their people safe, the New York Times reported.
Similar Implementations in Other Areas
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council passed a similar vaccine mandate that requires its nearly 60,000 municipal workers to get inoculated. Los Angeles County and Seattle are among the regions that have implemented vaccine mandates.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York also announced that teachers and other school employees will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccines. He added that other city employees must either be vaccinated or submit themselves to weekly testing for the coronavirus.
While negotiations about the details of the vaccine mandate were ongoing with several unions, Lightfoot has not announced when the requirement will take effect. The Chicago mayor expressed her support of a vaccine mandate during a Monday press conference, just hours after the Food and Drug Administration gave its full approval to Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for people 16 years old and older.
"City employees are absolutely going to be required to be vaccinated. We're working through those discussions which have been ongoing now for a couple of weeks with our colleagues in organized labor that represent city employees," Lightfoot said.
The Chicago mayor emphasized the region's need for a vaccine mandate, arguing that the safety of all residents is the primary concern, specifically those members of the public who interact with city employees on a daily basis, Fox News reported.
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