SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Wednesday is the deadline for San Diego city employees to get their COVID-19 shot to meet the city's vaccine mandate.
To be employed by the city of San Diego, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The deadline to comply was originally November 2, 2021. But Mayor Todd Gloria extended it to December 1, 2021, which means Wednesday is the last day to get the first shot.
"This is the first time I can remember them just coming down and saying, 'Here's a mandate, or else you get fired,' and that is unfortunate, I think," President of the San Diego Police Officers Association, Jack Schaeffer, said.
Schaeffer said there are about 1,900 sworn officers at the San Diego Police Department. But he warned that number would drop significantly once that date comes around.
"There's a lot of very passionate arguments back and forth about, 'This is why I don't want to get it.' And there's a lot of people who are simply saying, 'I'm not going to get a shot,'" Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer said several union members are already interviewing or have secured positions at different departments with looser vaccine rules.
San Diego County's deadline for the vaccine mandate was October 14, 2021. According to the Sheriff's Department, there are 2,570 sworn deputies as of October 22 of this year. Of that, 416 deputies applied for a religious exemption. Every one of those was approved, which means none were fired after submitting their religious exemption statements.
It is unclear how strict the City of San Diego will be for its religious exemptions. But Schaeffer said the loss of any qualified police officer has serious consequences for the community.
"I can't see how it wouldn't affect the level of service we can provide," Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer said rehiring folks is not as easy as other jobs.
"To get them to be really good at what they do takes a while. So it's very different than other jobs," Schaeffer said. "It could take a good decade to get back to where we are at this point if we were to lose that many people."
In response, Mayor Todd Gloria's office sent ABC 10News this statement:
"Since his election, the Mayor has worked to ensure the City of San Diego is a competitive and desirable employer for police officers through investing in training academics, higher wages and pension benefits. As a result of these efforts, 47 recruits started the police academy just last week with another 46 who will graduate in January. We also have another 90 officers who are currently in field training. This shows that even with the proposed vaccine mandate, we continue to attract officers to serve our city. We will do whatever it takes to make sure residents are safe and able to access police services."