SEATTLE (AP) – Ahead of the COVID-19 vaccination deadline for Seattle city workers, Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz is urging department staff to get vaccinated and is warning of a potential staffing challenge if they fail to do so.
In a letter sent to staff on Friday, Diaz said the agency apparently still employs hundreds of unvaccinated staff based on the latest vaccination information submitted to the department, the Seattle Times reported.
The department is grappling with staff shortages and has lost at least 250 officers in the past two years.
In his letter, Diaz said police have made staff plans to ensure continuity of services but need to know how many people will be released as per city requirements in order to minimize staff disruptions.
According to a policy from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, city workers must be fully vaccinated by October 18 and have until October 4 to receive either their second dose of vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, to meet the deadline.
Of the city’s 12,000 workers, more than 9,000 have submitted vaccination certificates to date, a spokesman for the Seattle Times mayor’s office told the Seattle Times. In addition, there were 600 requests for religious exemption and 98 requests for medical exemption.