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Pima County hopes to replicate Tucson’s vaccine mandate success

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 7:20 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County is hoping to replicate the success the city of Tucson has had with its vaccine mandate where 99.7% of its workforce has received a vaccine or been granted an exemption, medical or religious.

The city has nearly 4,000 employees and only 11 will be terminated for refusing a vaccine or not applying for an exemption.

The city initially feared it could be in the hundreds including public safety personnel but the mandate did its intended job.

Pima County, which has been reluctant to issue a vaccine mandate, decided to issue one for personnel who work with vulnerable populations, like corrections officers and those in the medical field.

It identified 2,154 of its employees who do. Of those, 405 remain unvaccinated or without an approved exemption.

The county has given those workers until Dec. 20 to do so or face termination. It will give them a second chance through meetings with their department heads but if that fails, they will be terminated at the end of the year.

“People need a little bit of a nudge sometimes,” said District 2 Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz. “If it’s required to work and do your job, that’s how important it is, that makes it much more serious.”

And if it’s more serious he believes, the better chance for compliance. But that may not be enough for everyone.

“We may lose some folks but they’ve had a long time, we’ve been at this for weeks, months,” he said. “This is not something we’re springing on anybody.”

With the Delta variant surging in Pima County and the new omicron variant threating to become the dominate variant here, vaccinations are key.

Many private companies such as Raytheon and Tucson Medical Center have introduced mandates will widespread success, so its believed Pima County my as well.

“It does make sense to do this and I think we’re going to see some additional compliance,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll see a much smaller number of folks come January 1st that would be susceptible to any type of termination.”

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