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Pittsburgh announces vaccine mandate for city employees

November 2, 2021 GMT

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh city employees who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Dec. 22 could be fired, the mayor announced, building on an earlier vaccine mandate for new hires.

City workers must be two weeks past the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines to be considered in compliance with the new policy. Workers who remain unvaccinated by the deadline and who do not obtain a medical or religious exemption could face “employment actions,” including unpaid leave or termination, under the order signed by outgoing Mayor Bill Peduto.

Peduto cited continuing high rates of COVID-19 transmission in Allegheny County, of which Pittsburgh is a part.

“It is our responsibility to act collectively to protect both our employees and the public so that we can move on and continue our recovery from the pandemic,” Peduto, a Democrat who lost in the May primary election, said in a statement Monday.

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Pittsburgh’s vaccine mandate — which follows one in Allegheny County announced in September — faced immediate pushback, with the head of the police union pledging legal action.

In New York City, about 9,000 municipal workers were put on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect Monday.

Pittsburgh has nearly 3,300 employees. A spokesperson said Tuesday that the city does not have an accurate count of how many employees have already gotten the shot because, under the old policy, only non-union employees had to report their vaccine status.