Daily file illustration by Hank Yang
City government will require all staff to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide weekly test results to the Evanston Health and Human Services Department starting Nov. 15, according to a Monday announcement.
More than 82% of city employees are already vaccinated against COVID-19, according to EHHS reports. Staff members may be exempt from the policy if they have medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs, but Evanston hopes to reach as close to 100% vaccination rate as possible, the news release said.
“Getting vaccinated is the single most important action we can take to protect ourselves, our families, our coworkers and our community from COVID-19,” Mayor Daniel Biss said in the release. “This mandate will help keep our staff and residents safe.”
Staff are considered fully vaccinated either two weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The city created the policy based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health and EHHS. These agencies deemed that all three of the currently Food and Drug Administration-authorized or approved vaccines are effective in helping prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Employees must adhere to this policy regardless of if they work remotely or in-person, according to a memo sent to all city employees. The policy applies to city staff, contractors, volunteers, interns, seasonal and part-time workers, and will extend to incoming employees.
If an employee recently tested positive for COVID-19 or underwent treatment for the virus, they must begin the vaccination process 10 days after they are fever-free and their symptoms have improved, according to the memo. To be exempted through medical conditions, they must provide written direction from a licensed medical practitioner.
If employees prefer to take a weekly COVID-19 test rather than be vaccinated, they may also be granted an exemption, the memo said. All employees must complete a HIPAA-enabled survey to request an exemption. If denied, staff members must receive either the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first dose of a two-dose vaccine within 15 days of the denial.
Employees with approved exemptions must complete a COVID-19 test on their own time and submit it to EHHS staff through a HIPPA-enabled survey before 3 p.m. every Friday.
City employees seeking vaccines can attend one of the city’s vaccination events, visit vaccines.gov to find an appointment or call 1-800-232-0233. Find The Daily’s guide to accessing a vaccine here.
Email: [email protected]
— City to administer Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot for eligible individuals
— Cook County, Chicago vaccination sites to offer Pfizer vaccines for children 12 and older
— Surprise shots, limited slots: Northwestern students seek last-minute Pfizer vaccines in Norris