Acting Mayor Kim Janey on August 12 announced that by October 19, all city employees, contractors, and volunteers will be required to either show proof of vaccination or participate in weekly COVID testing.
At a press conference at City Hall, Janey talked about the rise in COVID cases “over the last several weeks,” saying that the City has seen about 119 new cases per day.
“The data also show that the vaccine is our best way to protect ourselves from this virus,” she added.
Janey said that an average of 68 Boston residents are hospitalized with the virus, which is half of the rate seen in early May of 127. She said that the hospital capacity is “well below the established thresholds in the city.”
She continued, “Public health experts expect that we could be living with COVID for a while. This means we will see ebbs and flows of COVID cases, and we need to ensure that our hospital capacity, which is our capacity to save people’s lives, remains below the threshold. The best way to do that is by getting people vaccinated.”
To date, more than 400,000 Bostonians are fully vaccinated, and almost 68 percent have gotten at least one dose, she said. In the Black and Latino communities, vaccinations are up 17 percent in the Black community and 23 percent in the Latino community. “We are making real progress and I’m proud of the work that we are doing together.”
The vaccine mandate for city employees was designed with the goal “to protect our employees and the public, and our work is rooted in public health guidance and based on data and science,” Janey said. She said that city officials have had conversations with department heads, cabinet chiefs, and labor leaders on the topic before announcing the mandate.
…“All of us share the goal of a healthy workforce,” Janey said, adding that the conversations will continue as the policy is implemented.
By the end of August, all city employees, contractors, and volunteers will have to show proof of vaccination using a “secured, centralized, digital portal,” Janey said. “The portal will be designed to protect the privacy of our employees’ health information.”
If no proof of vaccination is provided, employees will instead be required to get tested weekly and show proof of a negative result. “There will be clear timelines regarding when to go get tested, how to submit testing results, and when employees would need to refrain form coming in to work,” Janey said.
She said there will be COVID testing locations at City Hall and in neighborhoods across the city so employees can easily get tested. Additionally, there will be mobile vaccine clinics for residents to receive the vaccine in a convenient location.
On September 20, “public facing workers who interact with high priority residents” such as children and seniors.
On October 4, “all public facing employees” will be required to comply with the mandate, and by October 18, all city workers will have to adhere to the mandate.
“As the CEO of the largest employer in Boston that employees 18,000 people, we have to do all we can to protect ourselves, our families, and the residents we serve,” Janey said. “In Boston, we are leading by example and I continue to strongly recommend wearing a mask indoors and getting employees vaccinated.”
Janey stressed the City’s continuing efforts to vaccinate populations hardest hit by the pandemic.
“As we have seen over the past year, when we trust the science, track the data and work together, we can help to keep our city and her residents safe,” she said.