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Housing Authority is first government agency in Baltimore City to mandate COVID vaccine for employees

Housing Authority of Baltimore City employees have about three more weeks to get the coronavirus vaccine or risk being fired, the agency said in a news release Monday.

The agency’s move to force employees to show proof of vaccination by Sept. 1 makes it the first government agency in the city to do so. HABC is an independent agency from the city and therefore can make policies that differ.

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HABC President and CEO Janet Abrahams said the requirement is being implemented because of rising coronavirus cases and a low vaccination rate among its 650 employees.

“We have spent months repeatedly stressing to our employees the importance of getting the shots, yet only about half have submitted proof of vaccination,” Abrahams said in a news release. “Now with Covid cases increasing, our Board of Commissioners and I felt compelled to protect our co-workers and the residents we serve, especially our seniors and other vulnerable clients.”

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Employees who do not comply with providing proof of vaccination by Sept. 1 will be placed on a 45-day progressive discipline track that will end in termination if they continue to remain unvaccinated. Each employee is paid for their time to get the vaccine, the agency said, and the mandate applies to all job applicants. Exceptions to the mandate for those who have had a medical reason or religious belief will be made, the agency said.

The board authorized a vaccine mandate in June and since then, HABC said it has held a virtual town hall with medical experts and hosted several vaccination clinics.

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