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D.C. Suspends Unvaccinated First Responders’ Licenses as Thousands Seek Exemptions

D.C. has taken steps to begin suspending first responders who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus in defiance of a mayor-issued mandate.

City Administrator Kevin Donahue said Tuesday that seven unvaccinated members of D.C. Fire and EMS had their health care licenses suspended by the D.C. health department and that the process has begun to put those employees on unpaid leave pending termination, WTOP reported.

Donahue said those seven employees made no request for medical or religious exemptions.

Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, the city’s health director, said warning letters have been sent to employees who haven’t notified their agency that they have been vaccinated, with the next steps being a written reprimand, suspension and termination, WTOP reported.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s deadline for first responders to be inoculated passed seven weeks ago.

D.C. officials said Tuesday that roughly 10% of Fire and EMS workers have requested exemption while nearly 71,000 have reported being at least partially vaccinated.

“I think it’s 251 firefighters who have asked for a religious exemption,” Donahue said, WTOP reported. “It does not mean they get it. It’s important that we deliberate carefully because any denial we make, I assume, will get challenged and appealed. So we’re very deliberative in the way in which you go about reviewing those exemption requests.”

Nesbitt said about 2,300 requests and counting have been filed by city health care workers for vaccine exemptions, WTOP reported.

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