Mayor says City will require all new employees to be vaccinated before starting employment with the City

As new COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the nation and locally, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced the City of Syracuse will require all employees of city government to have COVID-19 vaccinations or be tested weekly for the virus effective Sept. 7, 2021. The City will also require that all new employees to city government provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination before beginning employment.

“Our employees interact with the public and provide vital services to residents. The City of Syracuse has an obligation to protect the health and well-being of all of our employees and the people that we serve. The data is clear that the best way to do that against the continued threat of COVID-19 is to be vaccinated,” said Mayor Walsh.

Mayor Walsh at a city vaccination clinic in May 2021.

The City’s new policy allows employees to seek an exemption from vaccination for “reasonable medical or religious accommodations.”  Any employees who are not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly at a City-run testing site. The City developed the new policy after consultation with representatives of employee labor unions and will continue to work with its labor partners as this requirement is implemented.

“As the dangers of the COVID 19 Delta Variant become more apparent, it is increasingly clear that the best way to protect our employees and their families is with vaccines. Vaccines have been proven to protect against serious illness from the novel coronavirus and its variants, including lessening the rates of transmission and the severity of breakthrough infections,” the City’s policy states. “Vaccines also provide stronger, longer, and better protection against infection from the novel coronavirus than the antibodies a person produces after having been infected with COVID-19.”

As of Thursday, Aug. 19, the citywide vaccination rate for at least one dose is 57.7%, according to the Onondaga County Health Department.  The fully vaccinated rate is 41.6%.

“We must keep increasing the vaccination rate in this community. Unless we take more actions to bring the pandemic to an end, we will be subjected to more sickness and disruptions to our lives,” said Mayor Walsh. “I urge all employers in our community to institute similar policies as soon as possible. Only by acting together will we turn back the COVID-19 threat.”

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