City of Denver grants vast majority of vaccine exemption requests
The vast majority of exemptions requested from the vaccine mandate have been granted, mainly on religious claims.
DENVER – Demand letter asking to be exempt from the city employee vaccination mandate opens a window on why so many employees have been granted exemptions and indicates how lenient the city has been in granting demands.
The letter, obtained by 9Wants to Know, was written by an unidentified Security Department (DOS) employee who was granted an exemption based on religious beliefs.
Of the city’s 10,873 employees, 711 submitted exemptions. Of these, 611 were granted: 553 of them for religious reasons and 58 for medical claims.
In the police department, 188 unvaccinated employees currently interact with the public as part of the city’s immunization mandate and are expected to test for the virus every five working days.
In the one exemption obtained by 9Wants to Know via a public registration request, the unknown DOS employee wrote “My Christian conscience will not allow me to receive the injection”, while claiming “I was not at common to the fact that the COVID vaccination used by humans has aborted fetuses in any process of their development.
DOS provided the only example of an exemption before denying the rest of the exemptions due to employee confidentiality. The example does not contain the employee’s name or job title.
The city asked 9NEWS to destroy the example, but 9NEWS chose to show the letter because it provides a window into how the city acceded to most requests based on religious claims.
âThey are all legitimate. That’s why we approve them, âsaid City Attorney Kristin Bronson, whose office was responsible for reviewing and approving all requested exemptions. “I think the mandate is working, given that over 99% of employees have complied with it.”
Bronson and Mayor Michael Hancock admitted that it was difficult to assess the sincerity of religious claims.
âThere is no definite blueprint for determining whether someone is real in terms of authenticity and religious faith,â Hancock said when approached by 9Wants to Know last week. “So they’re doing their best to have multiple checkpoints to make that decision.”
The mayor’s office and the city attorney’s office initially rejected our requests for interviews.
The city’s health department announced the mandate in August, with a requirement for full-time city employees to become compliant by September 30.
RELATED: Denver Demands COVID Vaccinations for All City Employees, Workers in High-Risk Settings
According to figures provided by the city, the vast majority of employees at all of the city’s agencies have had their exemption requests granted – around 85% as of October 26.
Of the exemptions granted, 90% were religious claims.
City of Denver Exemption Request Numbers
- 10,873 total employees
- 711 exemptions requested
- 611 approved on religious claims
- 58 approved on medical claims
The Denver Department of Security, which includes 4,064 police officers, assistants, firefighters and 911 operators, accounts for more than half of the exemptions granted, to 372.
9Wants to Know asked the city attorney for comment after his office refused to review the rest of the exemption letters.
âBut certainly, a warrant here has proven to be extremely effective in getting more shots,â Bronson said. âAnd that’s really our goal. And you can see the compliance go into effect here with the warrant. “
Expert in religious freedom: legally weak allegations
Douglas Laycock, a nationally recognized religious freedom expert who has argued in six religious freedom cases before the Supreme Court, has said he is against religious exemptions under vaccination warrants.
The University of Virginia law professor even filed a brief in support of the Colorado baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple.
âThe right to religious exemptions is fundamental. I support it. But it has never been absolute, âLaycock said.
Laycock said that since 1905 the courts have historically sided with life-saving vaccines rather than religious beliefs. He said most requests are made for political or anti-vaccine reasons.
Laycock said there was no legal capacity for the city to approve exemptions based on religion.
âWhat you see is that a lot of employers give religious exemptions to avoid the hassle. They know some of the anti-vaccines will sue them, âLaycock said. âI think they have to hold on and be prepared to be sued if necessary. The law is very much on their side.
The city also granted 58 exemptions based on medical claims.
Considering Colorado’s population of 6 million, 9NEWS health expert Dr Payal Kohli said only a handful of people in the state would qualify for a medical exemption.
âI would say less than one in a million,â Kohli said.
Kohli said legitimate medical exemptions from vaccines are so rare that it’s impossible to find a doctor who will approve them.
“If anyone is willing to sign it, I would highly doubt their professional integrity, because medically there is very little reason why you might be eligible not to receive any of these vaccines,” he said. she declared.
A spokesperson for the city attorney’s office said every approved medical exemption must be “signed by a licensed and treating medical provider.”
9Wants to Know asked for the names of the medical providers who approved the exemptions, but the city attorney’s office denied this information.
The letter obtained by 9Wants to Know cited the use of abortion tissue as a reason for requesting an exemption. This exemption has been granted.
COVID-19 vaccines were developed using cell tissue derived from aborted fetuses from the 1970s and 1980s. However, the original tissue is not in the vaccines. Cells are thousands of generations descended from the original tissue.
âThese are the descendants, the progeny of these original fetal cells that were grown in cell culture and replicated over and over again,â said Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease expert at the University of Medical Center. Nebraska.
âAlmost all of the medical products we use have been affected in one way or another by research done on fetal cell lines,â Lawler said.
RELATED: COVID Vaccine Not the Only Modern Drug Made With Fetal Stem Cell Research
According to city documents, each employee who is granted an exemption must test for COVID-19 “every five calendar days” and upload the results to a city database.
A letter of accommodation sent to employees said testing must take place outside of an employee’s normal working hours.
“Failure to comply with these accommodations may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination,” the letter said.
City prosecutor demands 9NEWS not to issue exemption letter
In a letter sent to 9NEWS on Sunday evening, the city attorney’s office asked 9NEWS to refrain from reporting on the exemption letter obtained through an open case request.
The city initially agreed to publish each letter of demand and accepted payment to meet the demand on September 23. The same Security Ministry records keeper sent a rejection letter for the remaining letters on October 12, citing confidentiality concerns.
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