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Association letter outlines religious exemption process for vaccine mandate

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Posted at 4:28 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 21:25:24-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - In letter sent to members of the Deputy Sheriff's Association (DSA) of San Diego County, the organization is claiming victory in negotiations with the county over the vaccine mandate.

The letter, obtained by ABC 10News, walks DSA members through conversations from several recent meetings between the association, the Sheriff's Department, and the County of San Diego.

According to the letter, the association reached a compromise with Sheriff's Department.

It says, "Rather than the broad, sweeping interpretation of the order, which would have resulted in more than a thousand DSB (Detention Services Bureau) employees having to vaccinate without the option to test, we worked together to identify positions that qualify under the order. Ultimately, just over 200 positions were identified. That compromise allows the Department to be in compliance with the law and is a small enough number of positions to where operational changes can be made to accommodate individuals who refuse to vaccinate."

It says for individuals working in positions that require a vaccine, deputies will have the option to submit a medical or religious exemption and continue working on their assignment.

According to the letter, receiving a religious exemption will be a process that requires nothing more than a couple of clicks.

The letter explained, "The religious exemption will be slightly more seamless. Deputies will have the option to go into the corporate directory and simply check a box that will read, ‘I am declining vaccination based on a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents me from taking a COVID-19 vaccine. I understand that by submitting a request for a religious exemption I remain subject to weekly testing and must adhere to any applicable PPE requirements and safety protocols.’ No additional documentation will be required and no follow-up is expected. After submitting the religious exemption, deputies will receive an automated response informing them their religious exemption is approved."

ABC 10News asked to speak with someone from the DSA about the letter and the process. They did not respond to our request for an interview or comment.

A spokesperson for the Sheriff's Department said they "cannot speak for the DSA as they are a separate entity from the agency." They said there are meetings scheduled to discuss vaccine-related matters.

The Sheriff's Department also didn't comment on the total number of employees that are vaccinated or the number of medical and religious exemptions that have been approved.