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Boston extends employee vaccination deadline by another week

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu meets with the news media after touring Tufts Medical Center on Jan. 5. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu meets with the news media after touring Tufts Medical Center on Jan. 5. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Boston is once again extending the deadline for city employees to show proof of at least partial vaccination against the coronavirus — or be placed on unpaid leave.

This latest extension means workers must show proof of vaccination by Monday, Jan. 31.

In a statement Sunday, Mayor Michelle Wu said workers will have one more week to get into compliance "as the city continues to have productive conversations with municipal unions."

Boston "will continue communicating with our employees and supporting access to vaccinations before January 30th, 2022 as we work to achieve our goal of vaccinating the entire City workforce," Wu's office said in a statement.

The latest city data show 18,265 employees are in compliance with the mandate as of Sunday.

Wu plans to hold a press conference on the extension Monday morning.

Boston's mandate was originally supposed to go into effect Jan. 15, the same day city restaurants, bars and gyms needed to start checking guests for proof of vaccination. But Wu extended the deadline by a week to give workers more time to get into compliance.

A group of public safety unions are challenging the mandate, arguing the shift away from offering a testing option for those who don't want to be vaccinated is a violation of their collective bargaining rights.

A Superior Court judge upheld the city's mandate earlier this month.

At a press conference Friday, the head of the International Association of Fire Fighters suggested the city may face a staffing crisis due to the number of firefighters who will not comply with the mandate.

In a statement later that day, Boston Fire Commissioner John Dempsey said he's confident there will be "no interruption of service."

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Walter Wuthmann is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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