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Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order today requiring all executive department employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 17.
Some 42,000 state employees now have 60 days to provide proof that they have received either the required two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The policy applies to employees working in-person as well as those who are teleworking.
Executive Department employees who are not vaccinated or approved for an exemption as of Oct. 17 will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Employees for whom vaccination is medically contraindicated or who object to vaccination on the grounds of sincerely held religious reasons may be entitled to an exemption from the requirement. The administration will provide further guidance in the coming weeks for employees who may wish to seek such an exemption.
According to the order, the executive department includes the office of the governor, any executive office of the Commonwealth, as defined in state law, and any agency, bureau, department, office or division within or reporting to an executive office.
The administration said it will continue to work with labor unions regarding the new policy, and specific ramifications of noncompliance for staff represented by unions will be discussed well in advance of Oct. 17 with each employee union. Management employees not in compliance will also be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
In the coming weeks, the administration said, employees will receive information about the process by which they may provide vaccine verification to the state. All documentation related to an employee’s COVID-19 vaccinations will be maintained confidentially.
As new guidance is issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the future regarding booster vaccine doses, executive department employees will also be required to provide proof they have received those doses as well, by a deadline to be established.
The new state policy does not allow for being subjected to regular testing as an alternative to getting vaccinated.
The executive order says the executive department, as the state’s largest employer, “can lead in promoting policies to ensure the health and safety of all Massachusetts workers and residents.”
In announcing the new policy, the administration stated that the COVID-19 vaccine is the best and most effective way people can protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from the virus.
Vaccines are widely available in Massachusetts, with more than 900 locations available at the Commonwealth’s VaxFinder website, including locations with walk-up appointments. Massachusetts remains a national leader in vaccinating its residents, with over 85% of adults having received at least one dose. Massachusetts also has one of the lowest COVID-19 hospitalization rates in the country.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and where to get vaccinated, visit www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine.