As Stamford's vaccine mandate date arrives, about 1/2 city employees fully vaccinated

Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Blvd. in Stamford, Conn. on Wed. Oct. 28, 2015.

Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Blvd. in Stamford, Conn. on Wed. Oct. 28, 2015.

Cathy Zuraw / Hearst Connecticut Media

STAMFORD — On the day Mayor David Martin’s vaccine mandate for city employees went into effect, about half of Government Center staff have received both COVID-19 shots.

The mayor announced in early August that he would require shots or a weekly COVID-19 test for city personnel by Sept. 7 in response to the delta variant’s prevalence.

However, the mandate’s reach falls short of covering everyone who works in the Government Center. Martin’s rule does not cover agencies or third parties that lease out space from the Government Center, including employees at the Stamford Senior Center.

Though mandated by a separate entity, the Board of Education, employees at Stamford Public Schools are also required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing.

About 1,990 people work at the Government Center, with 1,000 fully vaccinated and six who have had a single dose, according to Director of Human Resources Al Cava. To comply with the protocols laid out by Martin in August, the city would have to test approximately 984 employees every week.

“Although Mayor Martin’s original vaccine mandate still stands, the city is currently working on nailing down the logistics behind the weekly COVID testing alternative,” mayoral spokesperson Rachel LaBella said in an email.

“In light of many municipalities in our area, the state, as well as many local private businesses currently requiring vaccines and/or periodic testing, the whole process has become a little more complex, so as a result the city will defer the effective date of the testing requirement to the week of Sept. 13,” she continued.

Stamford was likely the first municipality in Connecticut to mandate full vaccination among all its employees as a response to the delta variant's rapid fire spread across the nation. Government Center staff who decline to get vaccinated must submit a weekly negative COVID-19 test starting the week of Sept. 13.

Employees were also permitted to request an exemption from the vaccine requirement for either medical or religious reasons from the city's human resources department by Aug. 20.

But effectively testing nearly 1,000 people presents another hurdle for the Government Center. Employees can choose between getting tested by the city weekly or proving their own negative PCR tests to the mayoral administration.

“We are in the process of putting together an employee testing program with one or more vendors,” wrote special mayoral assistant Laura Burwick in an email. “There is no contract at this time, but we anticipate entering into contract(s) with vendors to provide this service.”