San Francisco’s sheriff’s union on Friday threatened that a number of deputies will quit or retire early if they are forced to get a COVID-19 vaccine under the city’s mandate.
The policy issued last month requires San Francisco’s roughly 35,000 public employees to be vaccinated by Sept. 15 or risk possibly getting fired.
There are religious and medical exemptions for the mandate, however those without exemptions who still refuse to get inoculated will face “repercussions [that] go all the way up to termination,” said Mawuli Tugbenyoh, chief of policy for the city’s Department of Human Resources.
The San Diego Deputy Sheriff’s Association said on its Facebook page that the ultimatum would force officers from the already short-staffed agency to retire early or move on — something it warned the city “cannot afford.”
“If deputy sheriffs are forced to vaccinate a percentage of them will retire early or seek employment elsewhere,” the statement said.
Staffing levels at the department are already low, and losing more deputy sheriffs or any first responders would “affect public safety even more,” the union said.
It asked San Francisco to follow state guidelines that allow regular COVID-19 testing as an alternative to vaccination.
A majority of the Sheriff’s Association, which numbers about 700 is vaccinated, the union said. About 160 of its members are not vaccinated, preferring instead to wear masks and test for the virus weekly “due to religious and other beliefs.”
“We would like San Francisco to be in alignment with the state guidelines which require vaccination or test weekly,” the union said.
The union said it believes “masking works,” and said its members have always worn face coverings and provided them to responders and the public.
City officials slammed the union’s position, saying that those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 pose an “undue and unacceptable health and safety risk” on employees and the public.
“Vaccines are safe, effective and readily available to our employees.”
The city has reported a major uptick in violence in the first half of 2021, with 119 shootings reported in the first six months of 2021, compared to 58 in the first half of last year, according to a Fox News report.