Handful of Liberal Cities Cling to COVID Vax Mandates

For many people, the pandemic no longer factors into daily life.

But in a handful of liberal cities, universities, and companies, some people are still subject to vaccine mandates that may require as many as four shots to keep their jobs or spots in school.


Some of the mandates are facing growing protests and legal challenges.

Roughly two dozen former firefighters in Seattle filed a lawsuit against the city this week for denying their requests for religious exemptions to the vaccine and firing them.

New York City’s largest police union successfully sued to invalidate the city’s vaccine mandate for its members; a judge ruled this week that the union’s contract with the police department did not include an ability for the department to enforce such a mandate. The judge ordered the reinstatement of all the union-backed members fired under the vaccination requirements.

Even so, New York City officials said they planned to fight the ruling. More than 1,700 city workers across all departments had been fired as of this month over their refusal to comply with the vaccine mandate.

Four fired employees of a retirement care facility in Alabama filed a lawsuit last week against their former employer, alleging religious discrimination. The former employees claim their sincere requests for religious exemptions from the company’s vaccine mandate were denied improperly.

Political support for such mandates has dropped precipitously over the past year, and even some of the most ardent defenders of mandates have rolled back requirements they once championed.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), for example, boasted in January that his vaccine requirement had nearly doubled the vaccination rate of the state workforce. He stressed at the time that “no intervention is as important as vaccination” in fighting COVID-19.

Inslee rescinded the vaccine mandate earlier this month, setting an Oct. 31 date for its expiration while citing the value of “different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered.”

Goldman Sachs had for months required not just COVID-19 vaccines but booster shots as well for employees working from its offices. The investment bank quietly ended its vaccine mandate in late August, as well as its testing requirements and mask guidance.

Other major companies that pushed vaccine mandates aggressively last year, when the Biden administration was fighting an ultimately losing battle to require vaccination in virtually all workplaces, have since dropped their policies.

Comcast recently dropped its vaccine mandate for employees as it struggles to lure workers back into the office, while JPMorgan Chase said earlier this year that it would start hiring unvaccinated workers again.

But some corporations continue to insist workers get their COVID-19 shots.

Google and Facebook, for example, require vaccines for in-person employees, according to Axios.

Among the most controversial remaining vaccine mandates is one imposed by Washington, D.C., leaders on children attending public school. Students 12 years and older must be fully vaccinated by January to remain in Washington, D.C., public schools; the deadline was originally set for the beginning of the school year this fall, but vaccination rates among black students, in particular, were low enough that city leaders pushed back the effective date.

Some colleges and universities are requiring vaccines and boosters for all students — even those who take online classes. Georgetown University requires even fully online students to be fully vaccinated if at any point their studies will bring them to campus.

At the University of California, Berkeley, even vaccinated students will be banned from signing up for classes until they accept a booster shot. Recipients typically aren’t eligible for boosters until several months after their primary vaccination series, and in the case of students not yet eligible for their booster shot, UC Berkeley rules say students “will not have an enrollment until 30 days after you have become eligible to get your booster.”


Other jurisdictions are rolling vaccine mandates back slowly to balance the growing opposition to COVID-19 rules with the demands of groups that want them implemented indefinitely.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) last week ended the city’s policy of demanding that private companies in the city require vaccination for their employees, but he left in place the city’s vaccine mandate for its own workers, for example.

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