A San Francisco, California, union representing local sheriffs' deputies is warning that officers will quit or retire if they are forced to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
"The problem we are faced with now is the strict San Francisco Mandate which is vaccinate or be terminated," the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (SFSO) wrote in a Facebook post Friday. "If deputy sheriffs are forced to vaccinate a percentage of them will retire early or seek employment elsewhere."
The post stated the majority of officers are vaccinated, but that the union believes that continuing to wear face masks should be sufficient for those who are not.
"Approximately 160 out 700 Deputy Sheriffs [that] are not vaccinated prefer to mask and test weekly instead of being vaccinated due to religious and other beliefs," the post continues. "Currently, the staffing at the SFSO is at the lowest it has ever been due to the past 9-month applicant testing restriction placed on the Sheriff's Office by the Mayor."
The union added that the city "cannot afford" to lose and more deputy sheriffs and public safety will be negatively affected if officers step down because of a vaccine mandate.
The announcement from the union comes as San Francisco is experiencing a surge in shootings and assaults.
Last month, the city announced that all public employees, roughly 35,000, must be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 15 or risk the possibility of being fired.
Religious and medical exemptions are allowed, but those who claim them could still face "repercussions [that] go all the way up to termination," chief of policy for the city’s Department of Human Resources Mawuli Tugbenyoh said.
This week, Los Angeles County took a similar step and mandated all public employees be vaccinated by Oct. 1, but did not allow for religious or medical exemptions.
"With the coronavirus again raging, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant," Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, who issued the executive order mandating the vaccinations, said. "The need for immediate action is great."