Bowser mandates COVID-19 vaccine for all DC government workers, teachers

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday that all District government employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 as cases continue to rise in the region.

That includes contractors, interns and grantees, as well as all D.C. Public Schools teachers and staff.

They have until Sept. 19 to be fully vaccinated. If you’re not fully vaccinated — due to an exemption for medical or religious reasons — you have to submit to a weekly COVID test.

D.C. charter school teachers are not included under the mayor’s mandate.

Vaccination will also be required for all new D.C. government hires for jobs posted on or after Aug. 14.

Around 36,700 people are employed by D.C. government. About 54% of the total workforce has reported being fully vaccinated, officials said.

“We continue to see an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in our population,” DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said, adding that 1 in 10 new cases are appearing in children ages 5 to 14.

She said vaccination rates among Black students in that age group “is much lower than our vaccination rates for white students and Hispanic and Latino students.”

Nesbitt said the 25- to 34-year-old population is driving D.C.’s increasing rates, and the District isn’t seeing “any meaningful disparities” with regards to race and ethnicity.

According to the health director, “Since vaccines became available, out of all of the hospitalizations of D.C. residents, about 1% or 2% of those hospitalizations were in people who are fully vaccinated, we see a little bit of an uptick there.”

But, Nesbitt added, more than 90% of those who are in the hospital are unvaccinated.

Bowser delved further into vaccination numbers: She said 74% of those 12 and older are either partially or fully vaccinated. For those 18 to 64, 75% of people are partially or fully vaccinated. For residents 65 and older, 87% are partially or fully vaccinated.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said during Tuesday’s briefing that “90% of our employees indicated they’re vaccinated.”

City Administrator Kevin Donahue said that D.C.’s goal is to get everyone vaccinated.

“We know that keeps people safe,” Donahue said. “There is an opportunity, working with our employees and their unions, to be able to boost our vaccine numbers much higher than they are now.”

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, whose office operates independently from the rest of D.C. government, mandated last week that every employee in his office get vaccinated.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced last week that all Virginia state workers will have to show they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan made a similar announcement, requiring state employees working in congregate facilities to be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing.


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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