San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo today said he wants all City of San Jose employees, as a condition of employment, plus residents or visitors that enter city-owned facilities, be required to have a COVID-19 booster shot, or third round of vaccinations.
If the proposal is approved by the city council in January, San Jose could become the first city in California with such a mandate. Currently, San Jose requires proof of full vaccination to all city-owned facilities.
“To avoid crippling levels of hospitalizations and tragic outcomes, we have the great benefit of widespread access to booster shots, but we lack the benefit of time,” said Liccardo in a statement. “We must take decisive action to protect our workforce and our community, and a booster mandate will help."
The Omicron Covid-19 variant is now the most dominant strain in the United States, accounting for more than 73% of new COVID-19 cases less than three weeks after the first was reported, according to estimates posted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC data continues to show the rate of infection among the unvaccinated exceeds that of the vaccinated by five times, and the rate of death by thirteen times. Currently, there is evidence from federal health authorities that shows a third shot can substantially reduce the incidence of serious illness. A study was also published demonstrating a booster shot from Moderna increases COVID antibodies 37-fold against the Omicron variant. Pfizer and BioNTech published a similar study.
Liccardo, in his proposal, directed City Manager Jennifer Maguire to work with the city’s labor unions in anticipation of establishing a January implementation of a booster requirement for all city employees as a condition of employment.
He also proposed a booster requirement for all visitors to city-owned indoor facilities, such as the SAP Center, Convention Center and historic theaters, in January. The following exceptions would be allowed: individuals who received their second dose of the vaccination within the last 6 months and minors who are currently ineligible.
Liccardo also proposed considering the purchase of software or equipment that would facilitate more rapid and less labor-intensive verification of vaccinations. Current rules applicable to religious exemptions and sanctions for noncompliance would remain in effect.
The proposal is on the agenda of the rules committee for Jan. 5.