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Honolulu city workers cite religion for vaccine exemptions

October 25, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — More than half of Honolulu first responders who applied for exemptions from the city’s vaccine mandate cited religion as their reason for not getting inoculated.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that 57% of all exemption requests among Honolulu first responders pointed to faith.

The city requires all government employees to be vaccinated unless an exemption is granted. Exemptions include religion or medical conditions and only those who qualify may use testing to bypass the vaccine requirements.

City officials said those applying for medical exemptions must provide a letter from a doctor and religious exemption applications must include a written statement as to why their religion would prevent vaccination.

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A federal judge dismissed a complaint last week that sought to stop state and county employee vaccination rules. The court said there are options for testing and exemptions and the workers are therefore not being forced to take the vaccine, as the lawsuit alleged.

The 12 first responders who filed the lawsuit claimed they were being forced to take an “experimental” vaccine.

The Honolulu Police Department had the most exemption requests with over 300 applications.

City officials said about 90% of all employees were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 8.