MORE THAN 1,000 state employees have now left state government rather than comply with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Massachusetts executive branch vaccine mandate went into effect October 17, but actual firings have been spread out over several months as state agencies reviewed waiver requests, handled appeals, and meted out suspensions, which are a precursor to termination.
According to state government numbers as of January 26, there were 41,632 executive branch employees subject to the mandate, of whom 40,504, or 97 percent, have complied, either by getting vaccinated or having a request approved for a religious or medical exemption. The administration did not provide numbers of how many of them complied by getting vaccinated versus getting a waiver.
There are 1,013 employees who left a state job, either because they were fired or because they chose to resign rather than comply. That number, which represents 2.4 percent of the executive branch, includes 160 part-time contractors working for the Municipal Police Training Committee.
A small number of employees – 115 – are still going through the process. This could mean they are awaiting a decision on an exemption, just had an exemption denied, are in the suspension period due to non-compliance, or are awaiting their second dose.
Sarah Finlaw, a spokesperson for the Baker administration, said officials were unable to immediately provide an agency-by-agency breakdown of where the employees who left state service worked.
The Baker administration made the vaccine mandate an absolute requirement and does not allow workers to test for COVID regularly instead of getting a vaccine, as some municipalities did. The mandate faced legal challenges from state correction officers and the State Police union. In both cases, judges upheld the mandate.