As the clock ticked down on the deadline for Denver’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, 98% of full-time city employees were in compliance, city data shows.
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment issued the mandate on Aug. 2, requiring all city employees to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30. By midnight, employees not vaccinated or exempt will be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, 10,655 of Denver’s 10,869 full-time city employees have submitted proof of vaccination or been approved for an exemption, leaving only 214 — or 2% — not in compliance.
Of the 10,655 employees in compliance, around 94% received the vaccine and 6% or 627 were exempt due to religion or medical conditions, according to city data from Friday. Another 68 exemption requests are under review and 52 have been denied.
For those not in compliance, progressive disciplinary measures are set to begin immediately.
On Friday, city departments and agencies will issue contemplation of discipline letters to all employees who have not been vaccinated or exempt, according to city officials.
“The goal of the plan is to gain compliance through progressive discipline with employees who are receptive and enforcing the mandate against those who are not,” the city health department said in a statement.
After the letters, employees who refuse to comply "under any circumstances” will be terminated. Employees who are "receptive" will be suspended without pay for 10 days and, once the 10 days are up, if they still haven’t complied, they will be terminated as well.
Terminated employees won’t be eligible for re-employment with the city of Denver for five years, according to city officials.
Employees with approved exemptions must adhere to accommodations including masking, testing and physical distancing and, if they do not, they will be subject to the same disciplinary measures as non-exempt unvaccinated employees.
Employees who are close to being fully vaccinated but missed the deadline will not receive any disciplinary action.
"We've ordered face coverings to be worn, we've had a series of testing regimens, we've tried a stay-at-home order, we've tried capacity limits," said Bob McDonald, department executive director, when the mandate was announced. “We've tried all of those things, and a year and a half later, after all of that, here we are.”
The deadline for the vaccine mandate comes after a judge dismissed a lawsuit against the mandate Wednesday, brought by seven Denver police officers. The judge dismissed the lawsuit because it wasn’t brought within 30 days of the mandate’s issuance.
According to city data, 97.3% of employees with the Denver Police Department have been vaccinated or exempt as of Thursday at 4 p.m. — below the city’s average 98% compliance rate.
Other agencies with below average compliance are Transportation and Infrastructure with 97.9%, the District Attorney’s Office with 97.5%, Human Rights and Community Partnership with 96.8%, Denver 911 with 96.6%, General Services with 96.3% and the Sheriff’s Department with 93.2%.
The lowest-compliance agency is the Board of Adjustment for Zoning Appeals with 85.7%; however, the agency has seven employees, which means only one employee is not in compliance.
Besides those seven agencies, the rest of the city’s 38 agencies have vaccine compliance rates of 98% or higher, including 18 that have 100% compliance, according to city data.