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City of Charlottesville discussing vaccine requirements for staff as some departments lag in vaccination rate

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 9:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The City of Charlottesville could be just weeks away from implementing a vaccination requirement for its staff. Before it does, though, some issues need to be worked out.

Right now, there’s a vaccine mandate on the table for City Manager Chip Boyles, and it may not be long before he gives it the ‘okay.’

The vaccination campaign for Charlottesville’s government employees has so far been a mixed bag of success.

It’s off to a strong start at the Charlottesville Fire Department, which is one of six city departments with at least 100 employees.

Data from the city that was shared with NBC29 on September 15 showed nearly 91% of CFD has gotten at least one shot.

“We want them to be vaccinated,” said City Spokesperson Brian Wheeler. “It’s important for them. It’s important for the community”

Overall, nearly 4 of 5 (80%) city employees have received a shot. This includes five departments of fewer than 20 people (Circuit Court, City Treasurer, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Communications Office, and Human Resources).

There are, however, some agencies lagging behind. Just 86-of-142 transit employees have gotten a shot -- that’s a little more than 60%.

At the Charlottesville Police Department, 72 percent. Those are the two lowest vaccination rates for departments with at least 20 employees.

“There are some departments where we need to do some more work. We’re doing that by pushing, again, the education,” Wheeler said.

While the city is pushing education, it may be about to push further. Wheeler says there’s a plan in the works to require vaccinations.

“What that would look like is a requirement for employees to demonstrate that they’re vaccinated,” Wheeler said. “And if they’re not able to do that, that would be a testing program”

A reason the plan has not been implemented yet is logistical: the city wants to make sure the challenges with testing, both timeliness and resources, can be addressed before the program gets up and running.

Wheeler says that may mean the plan will be ready in October or November.

“I think the fact that the President and many other companies are making that decision, I think that helps put the pressure on us as an employer as well,” he said.

Wheeler says he doesn’t believe it will take “a lot of convincing” for Boyles to implement the plan once it’s ready.

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