About 56% of Baltimore’s employees have complied with its requirement to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, city leaders reported Wednesday — three days after the requirement went into effect.
On Monday, employees were directed to report their vaccination status to the city via Baltimore’s Workday payroll system. By Wednesday, a little more than half the city’s 14,000-member workforce had complied, said Stefanie Mavronis, spokeswoman for Mayor Brandon Scott. That figure has increased from 48% on Monday.
The vaccination rate for city employees mirrors that of the city itself, according to state data, with 56% of city residents fully vaccinated.
“We know the process is just kicking off,” Scott said.
Scott announced the vaccination mandate in August to combat the spread of the coronavirus among the city’s ranks and to set an example for the public. Those who do not get fully vaccinated will be subject to weekly coronavirus testing, city officials have said. Testing is scheduled to begin Monday and Scott said Wednesday that sites have yet to be announced. A vendor will conduct the testing.
Some unions representing city employees have encouraged their membership to push back against the requirement. Mike Mancuso, head of the Baltimore Police union, last week wrote to members encouraging them not to reveal their vaccination status citing a lack of communication between city officials and the bargaining unit.
Rich Langford, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 734 which represents the city’s rank-and-file firefighters, said this week the vaccination policy is “very troublesome.”
“Local 734 has been trying to get answers since the announcement of this policy, but has been unsuccessful,” Langford said. “We would like to see the start of weekly testing pushed back until definitive answers are given.”
Testing locations will be chosen based on proximity to city work sites and focused in areas where there are more city employees who have declined to upload their vaccination status, Mavronis said.
Scott was asked Wednesday about what consequences employees will face if they refuse to submit their vaccination status and do not get tested.
“There are always possible consequences,” he said.
The city’s vaccination policy states that employees who are not vaccinated and do not submit to testing will not be allowed in any city workplace and will be subject to discipline up to and including termination.
City representatives met with Fraternal Order of Police officials Friday to discuss the policy, prompting the union to send a letter to its membership Saturday announcing it will not be taking legal action against the city as it previously threatened.
“Despite this meeting, I remain frustrated at the City’s implementation of this procedure as it appears they have not fully considered its consequences or how to ensure that it works smoothly,” Mancuso wrote. “We are certain that the City & BPD will have to make numerous revisions and provide additional guidance for this policy to work properly; however, based on the commitments made at today’s meeting, we believe there is sufficient information to move forward.”
As of Wednesday, 45% of employees in the police department had reported their vaccination status, according to a report prepared by the city. That lags behind a self-reported vaccination rate tracked by police officials which is about 64%, department spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said last week.
Other departments with less than a 50% compliance rate included public works, recreation and parks, the convention center, Orphans’ Court for Baltimore City, elections, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, municipal zoning and appeals and Youth Works.
Mavronis said city officials are monitoring the numbers are developing an outreach strategy for departments with lower compliance rates to make sure employees have access to Workday and if needed, vaccination clinics.
Baltimore Sun staff writer Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.