DC suspends unvaccinated first responders’ licenses as thousands apply for exemptions

City leaders are sharing just how many first responders remain unvaccinated in D.C. long after the mayor mandated they get the shot.

Some 2,287 requests for vaccine exemptions have been submitted from the city’s health care workers, and they continue to come in, said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of DC Health.

It’s a small amount of the population of which more than 70,700 have reported they are fully or partially vaccinated. However, roughly 10% of DC Fire and EMS workers are requesting exemption from vaccination.

“I think it’s 251 firefighters who have asked for a religious exemption. It does not mean they get it. It’s important that we deliberate carefully because any denial we make, I assume, will get challenged and appealed. So we’re very deliberative in the way in which you go about reviewing those exemption requests,” City Administrator Kevin Donahue said, breaking down the exemption review process.

All the letters, which the city refers to as a “notice of noncompliance,” have been sent out, Nesbitt said. The next steps will be a written reprimand, followed by suspension, then termination.

The mayor-issued deadline for first responders to be vaccinated passed seven weeks ago. Donahue indicated that the city is well on its way into the disciplinary phase for those who did not comply.

“There are seven members of FEMS (Fire/EMS) who recently did have their health care license suspended by DC Health, and this week, FEMS will move to put those individuals on leave without pay pending termination,” Donahue said.

He also said that the seven employees refused to get the shot and made no exemption request.

Meanwhile, 84% of D.C. schools staff is partially or fully vaccinated, with 390 pending exemptions. So far, a dozen have been denied and three approved, according to Donahue. In charter schools, 93% of teachers reported to the city that they are fully vaccinated.

(Screenshot Courtesy DC)

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.

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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