A COVID-19 vaccine mandate and passport in Boston – as the number of virus cases and hospital stays increase before Christmas – is likely to spark a lawsuit from unions and other groups.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu will announce a series of new coronavirus vaccine guidelines on Monday as the highly contagious variant of Omicron spreads rapidly and hospital admissions for COVID-19 increase.
Wu would not provide any new vaccination guidelines when asked on Sunday, but the city’s unions announced a “big change” to their members over the weekend in particular: city workers must be vaccinated and can no longer test the vaccination Mandate. The workers could be fired if they don’t get the shot.
“We are taking steps to make sure we step up protection across the city when cases rise and to make sure Boston is at the forefront of what we need to do to protect our city,” Wu said on Sunday , in front of Brighton’s Corrib Pub for the Allston-Brighton toy ride.
“We’ll have more policy updates and the latest on COVID tomorrow,” she added.
The city’s 18,000 employees have the option of either getting vaccinated or being tested regularly.
A memo from Boston Firefighter Local 718 said the city will mandate vaccinations for employees and the testing option will be removed.
“This is an important change from our current policy, which includes a testing option for our members who have chosen not to be vaccinated,” wrote John Soares, president of Boston Firefighters Local 718, in the memo.
“We have notified our attorney of this policy change and are having discussions with our brothers and sisters from the other city unions,” he later added. “As you know, this is a complex issue and it has created a lot of controversy not just in Boston but across the country. We check our legal options and meet with the city’s employment office. “
The letter from Boston Firefighters Local 718 was first reported from Live Boston over the weekend.
Wu was asked on Sunday about union opposition to government policies.
“We are in a moment when health must come first – that is, for the general public and each and every one of our staff at City Hall and throughout Boston,” said the Mayor. “So we’re going to take steps to make sure everyone is safe and secure, and that Boston will follow the science and the data, which is what we have to do.”
Wu recently said that in the race to slow the spread of COVID-19, “everything is on the table” as cases and hospital stays increase during the holiday season. She left the door open for vaccine passports to enter businesses, including restaurants.
Soares, in the firefighters’ memo, wrote that Wu requires a vaccination certificate to enter buildings in the city.
Shana Cottone, an organizer for Boston First Responders United, said her group is ready to “take the matter to court if need be.”
“We beg her (Wu) to let the test option pass. Testing was that middle ground, ”said Cottone. “Can the city afford to lose permanent, well-trained, experienced police officers, firefighters and paramedics? These are the people who would be fired. “