98.6% of Denver city workers complied with vaccine mandate

At least 98.6% of Denver’s more than 10,000 employees complied with Mayor Michael Hancock’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate before Thursday’s deadline.

For those who haven’t, Friday marks the first day the city can send disciplinary letters — though workers who refuse to be vaccinated under any circumstances will be fired, city attorney’s office spokeswoman Jacqlin Davis said earlier this week.

The public health order covered not just every city employee — from the Denver Zoo to the Denver Police department — but also people working in private and public schools, nursing homes, homeless shelters and hospitals.

The city has not provided figures on how many people outside its employment umbrella have met the requirement. But as of 9 a.m. Friday, 10,601 full-time city workers had either been vaccinated or approved for a medical or religious exemption, per the city dashboard. That’s a more than 34% increase in compliance over the last four weeks and despite a pair of legal challenges from police and construction associations.

Hancock spokesman Mike Strott said the city intended to accept vaccine records and exemption documentation up until midnight Thursday. Exemption totals had not been updated Friday, but as of Sept. 24, 627 city employees had been given exemptions and 52 were denied.

Aside from the people who refuse to be vaccinated and will be fired, people who have yet to comply but still could will face 10-day suspensions without pay. If they have not started the vaccination process after those 10 days, they too will be fired, Davis said.

It is not clear how many disciplinary letters went out Friday. The city’s main human resources department and agencies themselves will handle those, she added.

Those who are in the process of being vaccinated but not fully vaccinated (achieved two weeks after a final dose is administered, by public health guidelines) will face no discipline.

On Wednesday, a Denver District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by seven police officers seeking to block the mandate. The judge said officers had not exhausted administrative remedies within the department before taking legal action.

Friday morning’s statistics show 98% (or 1,757) of Denver Police Department employees are in compliance with the mandate.

The Denver Sheriff Department has the lowest compliance rate among city departments of more than 100 employees at 95.1%. Two unvaccinated sheriff’s deputies died of COVID-19 earlier this year.

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