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Vaccine mandate deadline set for Tuesday for City of Tucson employees

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The clock is ticking for employees with the City of Tucson to get vaccinated. Mayor Regina Romero and the council voted to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, going against Gov. Doug Ducey and the state legislature.

The deadline is Tuesday and this move has faced opposition from some employees.

Many City of Tucson employees got have gotten vaccinated, however, some employees and their unions remain committed to the belief that this is an individual choice.

A spokesman for the City of Tucson said the majority of employees with the city are vaccinated but for those who aren't will face a five-day suspension without pay.

City Councilman Steve Kozachik said that it's not enough.

"I'm pretty solid on saying that if we're only going to give people five days off and call it good and everybody comes back to work and infect your co-workers and infect the community, I'm not okay with that," Kozachik said.

There are medical and religious exemptions.

After a judge upheld the city's mandate last week, the Tucson Firefighters Association released this statement:

"This decision threatens and coerces many officers and firefighters to face a 5-day unpaid suspension with no clear indication of discipline to follow, potentially resulting in their termination.

The city has not provided adequate time for employees to make an informed decision and have failed to provide the long term consequences for failure to do so."

"I am extremely disappointed in the state Tucson employees who did not see beyond their own liberties and understand the fact that the exercise of their liberties was directly affecting the health of others in this community," added Kozachik.

The longtime city councilman believes he and his colleagues may soon have to have a serious conversation about taking this vaccine mandate a step further.

"That is that, if you are not going to get vaccinated, you forfeit your employment as a city employee. People are dying. You know we'll eventually fill positions but people are dying. That's what's more important to me," he added.

City employees who are not vaccinated have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to provide proof of their first shot or fill out their medical or religious exemption requests.

A city spokesman told News 4 Tucson that those exemptions will be reviewed and need to be signed off by HR.

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Eric Fink

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