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Some unvaccinated city employees aren’t getting paid and could be fired

Covid-19 vaccine
In this Sept. 21, 2021, file photo, Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center nurse Maggie Bass, right, injects a COVID-19 vaccine into an arm in Jackson, Miss. Associated Press

Some unvaccinated city of Chicago employees are not being paid and could face termination.

City workers had until Jan. 31 to get vaccinated against COVID-19. According to city data, 4,159 of the city’s more than 30,000 employees have not gotten inoculated. It is not clear how many have religious or medical exemptions.

“Employees were fully advised of the deadline and the consequences, and we are taking action,” mayoral spokesman Cesar Rodriguez said in a statement. “This includes placing employees in no-pay status and disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

Nearly 3,000 unvaccinated city employees are in the city’s police department, but may not yet be facing penalties. The vaccination requirement for rank-and-file police officers is on hold after the union that represents them took the city to court over the mandate.

Data show 98.68% of all city workers provided their vaccination status and 85.1% report being vaccinated. A handful of departments report being 100% vaccinated, including the budget office, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

Chicago’s Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady said her department has fewer than five people on “no-pay” status. Data indicate there are eight unvaccinated people in her department.

Some have religious or medical exemptions, Arwady said, and at least one was a matter of missing paperwork.

“My hope is that they will change their minds and get vaccinated, but they are actually unable to do their jobs, particularly at the health department right now,” Arwady said.