A union representing San Francisco sheriff’s deputies warned that an impending COVID-19 vaccine mandate could lead to a significant portion of the force quitting.

The San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association said Friday in a social media post that if officers “are forced to vaccinate[,] a percentage of them will retire early or seek employment elsewhere.”

Their preferred policy would be for officials to get vaccinated or allow for those who don’t want it to get tested weekly, the group said.

All city employees in high-risk settings, including jails, are required to be vaccinated by Sept. 15, according to a mandate issued last month.

SFDSA President Kenneth Lomba told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We are all for COVID-19 safety and we back that, our problem is how this mandate – ‘vaccinate or you’ll be terminated,’ is really going to impact our staffing.”

SFDSA called on city leaders to focus on crime rather than forcing law enforcement to get vaccinated, on Thursday.

The union posted on social media, “Public safety of San Francisco has turned into the Wild West and will get worse when officers quit due to the vaccine mandate.”

“Officials with the city’s Department of Human Resources issued a Friday statement sharply denouncing the union’s stance, particularly in light of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus,” The Chronicle reported.

Officials said, per the Chronicle, “There is also an undue and unacceptable health and safety risk that is imposed upon the city, our employees and the public we serve, by those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccines are safe, effective and readily available to our employees.”

Officials announced the vaccination requirement “as a condition of employment” last month after updating the city’s public health order. It includes limited exemptions for religious or qualifying medical reasons. At the time, SFDSA President Lomba responded with a statement that read, in part, “Our African American and Hispanic members do not want to be forced to take vaccines due to the past history of vaccine abuse against minorities.”

Here are some more details from the Chronicle:

Nancy Crowley, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department, said officials are working with the human resources department to obtain full compliance by the deadline. On Friday they released an internal video showing the undersheriff and assistant sheriff promoting vaccinations, and next week the department is holding a vaccination clinic at San Francisco’s Hall of Justice.

“We’re trying to make it as easy for folks to access as possible,” Crowley said.

Union leaders with the city’s fire and police departments did not confirm whether their members were also considering resigning in light of the order, but both said they wished the city had engaged labor leaders at the front end of the process.

About 17% of police and 9.5% of fire department employees were not vaccinated as of Friday, according to city data.

The average unvaccinated rate across all San Francisco city departments is 7.7%, according to The Associated Press.

Sources: Dailywire, Ktla, Abc7news, Sfdph, Sfchronicle, Nypost, Yahoo

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