HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini has ordered all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 23 or else undergo weekly testing.

Those who have already been vaccinated and those who are vaccinated by March 4 will receive a $500 stipend funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.

“When I saw the numbers (positive test cases) skyrocket, I knew I had to do something to protect the public and our employees,” Fiorentini said. “We really want everyone vaccinated. The carrot is a $500 stipend while the stick is having to be tested weekly.”

Fiorentini said the new vaccination policy applies to the roughly 455 city employees, including those who work at City Hall as well as police, fire, library, water and wastewater, and the Highway Department. The policy does not apply to the School Department or elected officials, the mayor said.

The vaccination policy does apply to contractors and volunteers, including all full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary and probationary employees as well as those returning from leave and all prospective workers offered employment with the city in the future.

The $500 stipend would be given only to full-time employees and pro-rated for part-time employees vaccinated by March 4, Fiorentini said.

Elected officials, including the mayor, City Council and School Committee, would not receive the stipend, Fiorentini said.

“This one-time stipend seeks to increase employee vaccination and properly safeguard the health and safety of employees and the public who they work with,” Fiorentini said.

Fiorentini said some city departments are 80% to 90% vaccinated but he’s aiming for 100%.

“We’re dealing with the public and I don’t want to put anyone in danger,” he said.

The policy requires that city employees must provide proof of vaccination by Jan. 23 or undergo weekly testing. Employees who opt for weekly testing would be provided with free testing one day a week at a site to be determined, the mayor said.

Employees who opt for weekly testing would be required to follow all safety protocols, including wearing face coverings at all times while working and adhering to social distancing requirements when possible. Results from home testing kits would not be accepted as proof, according to the vaccination policy.

Additionally, employees who have received a first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine would be required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test until receiving a second dose within the manufacturer’s recommended time frame.

“At a time when many other city halls were closed down, our city employees worked hard and kept providing our vital services,” Fiorentini said in a letter to the City Council.

Fiorentini told the council he has been working with municipal unions regarding a vaccination policy since he is required to bargain this provision.

“Although the council does not vote on this, I wanted councilors to be aware of the policy and we certainly welcome any input or thoughts you might have,” he said in his letter.

The mayor said that as of Monday afternoon, most city unions have indicated they would sign the policy but he is still in discussions with several others.

Fiorentini said he is confident the city would be allowed to use ARPA money and since it is not appropriated, he does not need to go before the council to approve its use but wants to keep councilors informed before spending the money.

He said new CFO/Auditor Angel Wills will provide regular reports on use of ARPA money.

The mayor also said he plans to establish a committee to help create the ARPA policy and will appoint councilors to that committee.

Trending Video

Recommended for you