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Nearly 90% of Honolulu city workers vaccinated against COVID

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:29 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 10:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU (AP) — Almost 90% of Honolulu’s 10,000 city workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The city Department of Human Resources reported it has received 948 requests for an exemption to the city’s requirement that all employees be vaccinated. Ninety-four city workers have pulled their exemption requests and have instead gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

Religious exemptions make up the majority of the requests, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

First responders are seeking the most exemptions. The Honolulu Police Department submitted 309; the Emergency Services Department, 118; and Honolulu Fire Department, 114.

City officials presented the latest numbers to a City Council’s committee on Tuesday.

Noel Ono, the director of the Department of Human Resources, said those applying for a medical exemption must provide a formal letter from their medical provider indicating that the worker is unable to receive the vaccine. For a religious exemption, employees are required to turn in statements explaining their religious belief practices and how they preclude them from receiving the vaccine.

“I don’t think we’re being overly overbearing on asking for this information,” Ono said. “All we ask simply is if we need more, please provide that information. … And generally, we have approved it.”

City workers who are granted an exemption are required to test for COVID-19 weekly.

When a request is denied, employees have five calendar days to initiate vaccination or be placed on leave without pay until their employment status is determined. Ono said those placed on leave-without-pay status are given a chance to change their mind until a final cutoff date.

Five workers have been terminated. Four did not turn in their attestation form, and one refused to be vaccinated.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.