Massachusetts state employees, Troopers, risk losing their jobs as vaccine mandate deadline nears
BOSTON, Mass. (WLNE)- Tens of thousands of Massachusetts state workers will need to prove they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sunday or they risk losing their jobs.
Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order in August mandating executive branch employees and contractors to be get the COVID-19 vaccine by October 17.
A total of 300 Massachusetts State Troopers are unvaccinated, 200 of them waiting for approval of medical and/or religious exemption.
“We’re also waiting to hear whether or not even if they are granted religious or medical exemption. Will they be given a reasonable accommodation? Wearing a mask and testing?” asked Michael Cherven, President of the State Police Association of Massachusetts.
Cherven says they’re looking into other potential options like mask wearing or weekly testing.
“And it’s not just affecting us.”
Cherven says the agency is also seeing many of their Troopers leave and go to towns where the vaccine is not mandated.
Baker’s executive order is stricter than mandates imposed by Boston’s mayor and governors in New York, California and elsewhere, which also give government workers the option to submit to regular COVID-19 testing in lieu of getting inoculated. Washington state is among those that have required state workers to be vaccinated without the option of regular testing.
The order impacts roughly 42,000 workers, including both those working in-person and those working remotely.
Baker, who had resisted prior calls to impose such a mandate, said executive department employees who are not vaccinated or approved for an exemption by the deadline will be face disciplinary action, “up to and including termination.”
He added that the administration will provide guidance in the coming weeks for employees seeking a medical exemption or who object to vaccinations for religious reasons.
The Governor’s Office says they’re working on exemptions on a rolling basis. All employees, unless they’ve been told otherwise, should report to work as usual on Monday.
But even as Baker issued the new mandate for certain state workers, others have called on him to take bolder steps.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and other leading Democrats have urged mandating vaccinations for all school staff. The Massachusetts Teachers Association has also voiced support for mask mandates for students and teachers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.