At least 799 Denver city employees asked for vaccine exemptions as mandate deadline looms

Nearly 800 city employees have filed paperwork to be exempted from Denver’s vaccine mandate, according to the city’s dashboard.

The clock is running out on the Sept. 30 deadline that Mayor Michael Hancock set for all of the city’s more than 10,000 employees to be fully vaccinated.

City leadership laid out in the public health order that employers covered by the vaccine mandate (which includes all city departments and agencies, school teachers and staff, nursing homes, homeless shelters and hospitals) must accommodate workers who have valid religious or medical reasons not to be vaccinated.

As of Sept. 3, 799 city workers had submitted exemption requests, according to an update shared online. Of those, 376 had been approved and 55 were denied. Another 368 requests were under review at the time the data was posted.

Those numbers conflict with a KDVR report on Wednesday, which said 408 city employees had filed exemption forms by the end of August. The city attorney’s office has approved just 235 of those requests and denied eight, per KDVR’s reporting. All data in its story was attributed to the city.

The Denver Office of Human Resources compiles the weekly update by working across the departments and agencies that keep their own records. A new update is due Friday morning.

KDVR reported that 85% of the requests were based on religious objections but the city’s weekly reporting does not separate employees seeking exemptions into categories.

“We do not have a report of breakdowns of exemption requests by each department/agency or by type, as there are multiple custodians of record for this information,” Wade Balmer, a spokesman for the city’s human resources office, told The Denver Post on Thursday in an email.

More than 70% of the city workforce have met the mandate, with more than 7,600 full-time employees were fully vaccinated when the city issued its last online update last week.

The city says it has a procedure in place for talking to employees who are not exempt and do not complete the vaccination process by the end of this month. Starting Oct 1. city departments and agencies will start delivering “contemplation of discipline” letters to employees who are not exempt and have not uploaded vaccine records, according to Balmer.

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