The city of New Haven joins two other major cities in Connecticut now requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We think this will be a significant step forward to encouraging more municipal employees to get vaccinated and to keep our residents safe,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.
The city’s new vaccination order covers all city employees, part-time workers, interns, seasonal employees, and even those hired and in a probationary period.
“There are different cities like the city of Stamford and the city of Norwalk that have already instituted this mandate and they also followed a similar format,” said Health Director Maritza Bond.
The city created a HIPPA compliant portal for its 2,000 employees. It’s estimated that another 4,000 city employees in education currently fall under the governor’s vaccine mandate for state and education employees.
In New Haven, department leaders will be responsible for making sure vaccination records or weekly testing records are uploaded.
“We have to make sure we’re within the realm of number one: making sure there’s a process that’s going to protect the privacy of our employees and, number two an option for people that, for various reasons, are not going to be able to either get vaccinated or not ready to get vaccinated at this time,” Bond said.
For those employees, the city will offer COVID testing and results will be required on Thursdays.
Union leaders from the New Haven Fire Department declined to comment on the announcement. New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said there are plans to meet with all of the unions in the coming weeks.
One concern city leaders are hearing is over discipline. Failure to get tested by unvaccinated employees would be considered a violation of a workplace rule.
“I think it’s most important for us to say that we are really working towards compliance,” said Pat King, New Haven’s Corporation Counsel. “We are not trying to use this mandate or the policy as a way of inflicting discipline on employees. We are all working toward the same goal of safety in the workplace and safety for our city constituents.”
Bond said COVID cases in the city remain high, but she’s encouraged by vaccination rates among residents. At least 68% of eligible people have gotten a first dose of the vaccine.
“Those that are at fully vaccinated with two doses are at 61%, so we are making significant strides,” Bond said. “We are not stagnant as a city, so I want to thank the community.”
Elicker's executive order goes into effect on Sept. 27.
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