San Francisco becomes first major US city to require COVID-19 vaccinations for city employees

A sign reading 'COVID vaccine line starts here' in San Franisco.
FILE: In this February 2021 photo a sign is displayed at a COVID-19 vaccine site in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco. AP Photo/Haven Daley
  • City employees in San Francisco must get vaccinated for COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.
  • City employees will have 10 weeks after the FDA formally approves the vaccines to get vaccinated.
  • While some companies have announced a similar policy, San Francisco is the first major city to do so.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

San Francisco this week announced that city employees would soon be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.

City employees will have until July 29 to upload proof of their vaccination status to an online database, according to the new policy. The deadline is about one month after the policy will go into effect Monday.

Employees will have 10 weeks from the date the vaccines are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to get vaccinated, according to the policy. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have received emergency use authorization from the FDA but have not been formally approved.

“COVID-19 continues to pose a risk, especially to individuals who are not fully vaccinated, and certain safety measures remain necessary to protect against COVID-19 cases and deaths,” the city said in a statement. “Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent transmission and limit COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.”

According to data from the city of San Francisco, 81% of people over the age of 12 are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and 73% of people over the age of 12 in the city are fully vaccinated against the disease.

The new policy extends to about 35,000 employees, according to the Los Angeles Times, including firefighters, police officers, custodians, and people who work at City Hall. It does not apply to teachers, who are employed by the school district, the report said.

The directive comes amid continued global concern about more transmissible variants of the disease, including the Delta variant which is responsible for about 20% of all COVID-19 cases in the US.

While San Francisco becomes the first major city to mandate employees receive the shot, smaller employers have issued similar directives to their employees. Earlier this week, more than 150 employees at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas quit or were fired after they refused to be vaccinated.

Beginning July 12, employees and guests at Morgan Stanley will not be permitted to enter its New York offices if they aren’t vaccinated, as Insider previously confirmed.

A spokesperson for the city of San Francisco told CBS News that employees with a religious exemption or medical exemptions could preclude them from facing discipline under the policy.