BEVERLY HILLS—The city of Beverly Hills released a statement on Friday, October 1, in response to requests from 25 members of the Beverly Hills Fire Department (BHFD) to be exempted from vaccination against the coronavirus.

Starting October 1, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health required all health care workers, including paramedics and emergency medical technicians, to be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing if an exemption is granted. The exemption requests the city received cite religious beliefs or medical reasons as a basis for not receiving the vaccine.

The City’s Human Resources Department, along with a representative from the City Attorney’s Office, have completed interviews with staff members requesting the exemptions and issued the following decisions:

-4 firefighters have been granted a temporary (30 day) medical exemption

-1 firefighter has been granted a medical exemption

-14 firefighters have been granted a temporary (30 day) religious exemption

-6 firefighters were denied exemptions (5 have now been vaccinated, 1 has been placed on unpaid leave).

Any employee granted an exemption is required to be tested for COVID on a weekly basis in accordance with LA County Department of Public Health guidelines. Those exempted for medical reasons will be individually evaluated based on documentation submitted by their health care provider. Those requesting exemptions related to religious beliefs will meet with the City again in 30 days to re-evaluate their request.

To promote public health as coronavirus variants continue to emerge, BHFD will make operational adjustments as needed to ensure the greatest level of protection for the community.

“I want to assure the Beverly Hills community that this department will continue to provide world-class care with full staffing and emergency medical technicians on all shifts,” said Fire Chief Greg Barton. “The County’s requirement for vaccination of first responders is now in effect. While personal opinions on the issue of requiring vaccination vary, it is the City’s duty and responsibility to follow the County’s directive. I will not allow anything to distract from our mission of protecting the health and safety of the community.”