“Compliance looks different depending on the employee,” said Maritza Bond, New Haven Director of Health.
Vaccinate or test, those are the options ahead for New Haven employees in just under two weeks when the city’s vaccine mandate goes into effect.
Data from the city shows that so far, 1,149 employees out of 1,406 have made a choice. Of those that have responded, 77% say they’ve been vaccinated. Nearly 250 have opted for weekly testing.
“It’s been really positive overall,” Bond said. “There’s been cooperation and support from the unions as a whole.”
The fire union didn’t offer comments on the mandate, and the police union didn’t respond to NBC Connecticut’s request for comment.
“If individuals do not get the vaccine and are not going to include a vaccination, then as long as they are registered to do the weekly compliance for testing is what really matters,” Bond said.
The city has plans to make that weekly testing easier.
“We are making sure that they have accessibility to testing for those that are opting out (of vaccination) for the testing option,” Bond said. “And then we have also expanded the health department two days a week for employees.”
The city does not have vaccination data available by department. But for the police, fire and 911 dispatchers opting not to get a vaccine, the city is making extra effort to have testing available for them as well, recognizing that they have a specific need based on their 24-hour operations.
The New Haven Federation of Teachers Union did provide an update on vaccine reporting efforts for its members. Educators fall under the governor’s executive order on vaccinations which also begins September 27. Union President David Cicarella says they’re working with the New Haven Board of Education on verification.
“We see the compromise being very reasonable to try and ensure everyone’s safety,” Cicarella said. “Nothing is going to be 100%, but you take every measure you can to get as close to that as you can.”
He says he doesn’t have an exact number of vaccinated teachers due to HIPPA restrictions, but he’s confident the number is fairly high as they get back to in-person learning.
“Now if you or I go into a building we know that every building we go into, those teachers are either vaccinated or they’ve been tested,” Cicarella said.
He says so far, the rollout back to school has gone pretty well for teachers. He says there have been some small things to work on like masking in class or building maintenance, and the board has been responsive.
“They’ve been very good about working with us to try and address our concerns,” Cicarella said.
Bond confirms eight employees have opted to get vaccinated as a result of the mandate. New Haven is now at a 63% full vaccination for those eligible for a vaccine, and 77% have received at least one dose.