San Francisco officials announced on Wednesday that city employees, which number around 37,000, are required to get their coronavirus vaccines within 10 weeks after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives its approval to a vaccine or risk losing their jobs.

The announcement makes San Francisco the first large city in the United States that would enforce mandatory vaccinations on its workers. Carol Isen, San Francisco’s human resources director, said the requirement was made to protect the safety of city employees.

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

City officials released the vaccination policy on Wednesday, which states employees who are not able to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus are at risk of being disciplined, which includes termination of employment.

The FDA approved all vaccines being administered in the United States today under “emergency use authorization” that sped up the process. It is a countermeasure that Congress gave the FDA after the 9/11 terrorist attacks for immediate action against a threat, in this case, the COVID-19 virus.

Officials take up more time to perform the regular full drug approval process compared to the emergency use authorization. All three vaccines used in the U.S. today, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have been given emergency use authorization.

On May 7, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, submitted an application for full approval to the FDA. On the other hand, Moderna submitted its application later on June 1.

City officials are requiring their employees, under the new policy, to submit their vaccination status until July 29 as one requirement to remain employed. Workers will have to upload a copy of their COVID-19 vaccinated card or documentation of vaccination from the health care provider that administered their shots.

However, city workers who have existing medical conditions will be given medical exemptions if their condition affects their eligibility for vaccines. The city is letting medical providers verify the conditions, USA Today reported

Additionally, authorities said that “sincerely-held religious belief” that urges a person to not get vaccinated will also be grounds for an exemption. But these instances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.