NEW BEDFORD — As the vaccine mandate for New Bedford city employees takes effect today, around 30 staffers at the Department of Public Infrastructure have called out of work in protest.

That's according to a former department employee who wished to remain anonymous and independently corroborated by another anonymous source.

Nearly a third of the department's more than 100 workers are staging the action against the mandate, which was put in place in August and requires city employees to show proof of vaccination by Nov. 15 or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

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The Department of Public Infrastructure has already lost several staffers who quit over the requirement, the former employee said.

According to the ex-staffer, the action is set to continue tomorrow and possibly through Wednesday.

It is unclear how many city employees have been vaccinated thus far or if workers in other departments are also staging similar protests.

A spokesperson for the city was not immediately available for comment.

The mayor's office had announced the mandate, which does not extend to employees of New Bedford Public Schools or the New Bedford Port Authority, in August, citing the city's low vaccination rate and rapid spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant.

Scientists and healthcare professionals at the CDC and other health groups worldwide have stated that getting the coronavirus vaccine is the best way to protect against the illness, which can be fatal.

The move followed similar vaccination requirements from the federal government as well as a similar policy adopted by Southcoast Health in July.

 

New Bedford's municipal government has taken multiple measures to combat COVID-19 including providing free masks to city residents and offering incentives for vaccines, among others.

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