By Kathy Chouteau
Starting today, the City of Richmond has instituted a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all City personnel to be fully vaccinated, subject to limited exemptions, according to a memo from City Manager Laura Snideman.
The policy, announced on the same day that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer), also requires non-City personnel entering City premises to comply with state or county COVID-19 health policies—whichever is more restrictive—regarding vaccinations, social distancing, social gatherings, mask wearing and other requirements.
Department directors or designees are responsible for ensuring their employees, interns, volunteers and onsite contractors comply with the policy by being vaccinated and showing proof, according to the memo.
City personnel must be partially or fully vaccinated with proof (or submit a request for exemption) by Sept. 15, stated Snideman. As of Oct. 18, City personnel are required to be fully vaccinated with proof (or submit a request for exemption); that same day, the City’s new hires, interns, volunteers and contractors must also be fully vaccinated with proof. The City’s Human Resources/Risk Management Department is accepting the proof of vaccinations.
The memo defines “fully vaccinated” as “at least two weeks since a person has completed the entire recommended series of a COVID-19 vaccine” and the individual “has provided proof of vaccination in a form consistent with the requirements of vaccine status” in the state’s July 26, 2021 health order.
City employees can submit a request for vaccine exemption if they have a CDC-or-vaccine-manufacturer-recognized condition that “makes vaccination inadvisable” for every approved COVID-19 vaccine; have a disability and ask for the exemption as a reasonable accommodation; or have an objection to the vaccine due to religious beliefs, practices or observances, per the memo.
Those whose requests for exemption are not approved have 15 days to be partially or fully vaccinated and eight weeks to be fully vaccinated from when they were notified of the denial.
“The rise in COVID-19 cases, the availability of hospital and ICU beds, the transmission rates and the related exigent public health concerns necessitates that the City takes action to protect our personnel,” stated Richmond Mayor Tom Butt about the policy in his e-Forum.
Per Snideman’s memo, the policy ends Dec. 31, 2022 or when the public health emergency and associated health risks are no longer present.