Sposato, Napolitano, Gardiner among aldermen asking Mayor Lightfoot to reconsider vaccine mandate for city workers, claiming it violates ‘personal freedoms’
by BRIAN NADIG
Aldermen Nicholas Sposato (38th), Anthony Napolitano (41st) and James Gardiner (45th) are among the six aldermen who are asking Mayor Lori Lightfoot to reconsider her executive order mandating that city workers be vaccinated or subject themselves to regular COVID-19 testing.
The Far Northwest Side wards that Sposato, Napolitano and Gardiner represent are known for being home to large numbers of city workers. Also signing the letter were aldermen Derrick Curtis (18th), Silvana Tabares (23rd) and Felix Cardona (31st).
The letter states the following, “While we have struggled with the effects that the COVID pandemic has created in all facets of our lives, the fact of the matter remains that this mandate is an infringement on our constitutional rights.
“We have and will continue to work tirelessly as elected officials to educate our constituents and provide them with the resources to help cope with this pandemic. Furthermore, we will continue to provide information, hand sanitizers and masks while promoting COVID vaccination events.
“This mandate does not prevent others from contracting the virus. Individuals who have chosen to get vaccinated are still susceptible to contracting the virus and transmitting it. An individual must make their own decision as to whether to vaccinate and accept personal responsibility for their decision.
“We firmly believe that your executive order to mandate the vaccination of all city of Chicago employees is an infringement on their personal freedoms.”
Lightfoot has said that she has no plans to drop or delay the vaccination mandate, which requires city workers be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Health officials have said that widespread vaccination is an important step in preventing hospitals from getting overrun with COVID-19 patients since the vaccine has shown to reduce the symptoms in those who are vaccinated and get COVID-19.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 has been vocal about its opposition to the mandate, while other unions have said that they have not reached an agreement with the city on a COVID-19 vaccination agreement.
To meet the Oct. 15 deadline, workers would have to have their last shot by Oct. 1. CDC guidelines state that a person is not “fully” vaccinated until two weeks after the second shot for those receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Napolitano chief of staff Chris Vittorio said that the ward office has received “a lot” of calls from city workers concerned about the mandate and that it is not clear how often unvaccinated workers would have to be tested. “We are still waiting on the official policy, and I’ve been in contact with H.R.,” Vittorio said.
City workers can seek an exemption for religious or medical reasons.
It’s not clear how many city workers are vaccinated. Workers were required to fill out a survey on the matter, but results have not been released, Vittorio said.
The letter also states that “we are writing as both vaccinated and unvaccinated aldermen,” but it does not list the vaccinated status of each of the six aldermen.
Sposato has said that he does not plan to get vaccinated, while Napolitano said at a community meeting several months ago that he was not vaccinated but intended to do so. Napolitano has not said publicly if he actually got vaccinated, and Gardiner has not issued a statement on his vaccination status.