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L.A. City Council Ends Three-Year Vaccine Mandate

Staff

More than a year after the Los Angeles City Council lifted the city’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, council members voted on Tuesday to end the policy mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for municipal employees.

The vote approved unanimously with a 13-0 vote, terminates the vaccination policy for all current and future city workers retroactive to June 2, as recommended by the city’s Executive Employee Relations Committee. Council members Curren Price and Katy Yaroslavsky were absent during the vote.

This also creates a pathway for re-employment of city workers who were terminated for non-compliance with the policy, as well as those who may have left voluntarily.

“It makes clear that individuals who were terminated or separated from employment related to the vaccine mandate are eligible for rehire.  This is related to a motion that I introduced last year to repeal this mandate to catch us up with the feds, the state, the county, our local school district and to end barriers to employment in the city,” said Councilmember Traci Park.

During the public comment segment of the meeting, around 15 city council members expressed their support for the ordinance and their frustrations with the original policy, urging the council to reinstate terminated employees with back pay. The re-employment provision is expected to assist around 86 workers who were terminated for non-compliance. While those who left or were terminated can reapply for their positions, rehiring is not guaranteed and will be managed by department management as usual.

The city’s declaration of emergency due to COVID-19 was withdrawn in February 2023, followed by the federal government’s declaration of the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency in May 2023. In the same year, several Southern California cities, including Long Beach, San Diego, and Pasadena, as well as Los Angeles County, Orange County, the University of California system, and the Los Angeles Unified School District, phased out their worker vaccination requirements.

Despite the mandate’s rescission, health officials continue to emphasize that while vaccinated individuals can still contract and transmit COVID-19, the vaccinations reduce the severity of symptoms and the likelihood of hospitalization and death.

The move to end the vaccination policy aligns with similar actions by other Southern California cities and government agencies. In April, Los Angeles County ended its vaccination requirement for employees, following the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ decision to end vaccination requirements for certain contractors.

Last month, the Biden administration ended its COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees and contractors, citing a high compliance rate and a significant decline in hospitalizations and fatalities.

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