DC's Vaccine Deadline Arrives for Firefighters, Health Care Workers

Here are the numbers on how many firefighters still refuse to get vaccinated, and what happens now


Thursday marks D.C.'s deadline for tens of thousands of licensed health care workers — including firefighters and paramedics — to be vaccinated. If not, they face losing their medical licenses and possibly their jobs.

The District's vaccination requirement covers every D.C. firefighter, as well as more than 80,000 licensed health care workers, such as doctors and nurses.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District's health director have threatened to revoke the medical license of anyone not at least partially vaccinated by Thursday.

On Thursday, the D.C. Hospital Association issued a statement to News4, saying in part, "While hospital policies vary, some of our members will begin taking employment actions in accordance with their policies on October 1. D.C. hospitals do not take these actions lightly."

The District's city administrator, Kevin Donahue, explains what happens now to the hundreds of D.C. firefighters who are not vaccinated.

"D.C. Health as a licensing body will begin that process after they get across their deadline, and I expect that process to take over, really, the span of a couple of months to be able to review what they have, and communicate fairly the different individuals licensed, and then ultimately determine the consequence, which includes loss of license for those who are not vaccinated," Donahue said.

Of the 2,047 D.C. Fire and EMS employees, 1,710 have been partially or fully vaccinated, according to data provided by the mayor’s office.

There is no option for regular testing instead of a vaccine for health care workers, but there are medical and religious exemptions.

Approximately 300 D.C. government employees — the majority from D.C. Fire & EMS — have submitted either medical or religious exemption requests. So far, about 20 have been denied. The rest have not yet been ruled on. There are also hundreds of requests pending from other licensed medical professionals across D.C. that have been ruled yet on by the health department.

"Each case gets reviewed individually on its own merits," Donahue said. "They're not ever reviewed in bulk or as a group."

The mayor’s office would not provide any data on the number of licensed health care workers who have not been vaccinated yet.

Thursday is also the deadline for all D.C. government employees, regardless of their jobs, to report their vaccination status.

The mayor’s office said that 89% have complied and reported their vaccination status. As of Thursday, 75% of all D.C. government workers are fully vaccinated.

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