Thousands of American workers face possible job losses as COVID-19 vaccination requirements begin to apply.

Vaccine requirements, called warrants, from governments and businesses have met with opposition across the country. But they have also been effective in persuading many workers to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 has killed more than 700,000 people in the United States. U.S. officials say about 77 percent of people who are eligible for a vaccine received at least one injection.

One of the latest public disputes over the issue occurred this week at Washington State University (WSU). University head football coach was fired along with four assistants for failing to comply with state vaccine requirements. Coach Nick Rolovich had called for a religious exception to the rule earlier this month.

School officials said the vaccine requirement was aimed at protecting the safety of its teachers and students. “Experience shows that immunization mandates help motivate people to complete the vaccination process, ”said Marty Dickinson, who heads the WSU board of directors.

However, the mandates raise concerns about labor shortages in several industries.

Thousands of police and firefighters in cities like Chicago and Baltimore are at risk of losing their jobs soon. They face rules that require them to report if they are vaccinated.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot got into a fight with the city’s police union. He does not support the vaccination mandate for municipal workers. About a third of the city’s 12,770 police workers did not report their vaccinations status last week as needed. Some officers have seen their salaries cut.

Lightfoot said the mandate was to “save lives” and create a safe workplace. She accused the union of trying to start a “insurrection“by opposing the rule.

President Joe Biden’s administration was behind the push to get more Americans vaccinated.

Last week, around 200 Boeing Company employees and others demonstrated. They oppose the aircraft manufacturer’s demand that 125,000 workers be vaccinated by December 8. This rule is tied to an executive order issued by Biden for federal contractors.

Rules for another decree covering private companies with 100 or more employees are expected to be finalized soon.

Along with the tenure of federal workers and contractors, Biden’s vaccine needs will affect an estimated 100 million people. This represents about two-thirds of the American workforce.

A series of layoffs has already taken place in the health sector. Industry has moved faster than others to put in place vaccination mandates.

Nurses and other healthcare workers who have chosen to quit their jobs rather than get vaccinated recently spoke to Reuters news agency. They expressed concern about the lack of long-term data on the three vaccines currently available in the United States.

The vaccines received emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration in less than a year. Most medical experts have said they are safe. They backed up their statements by noting large vaccine trials and saying hundreds of millions of people have been injected around the world.

Some companies are taking steps to to reassure workers that their requests for medical or religious exceptions will be given serious consideration.

Southwest Airlines spoke to its employees last week. The company said it would allow unvaccinated people to continue working rather than being put on unpaid leave. Southwest said it would if the exception requests had not been reviewed by the government on December 8. deadline.

I am Bryan Lynn.

Reuters reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

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Words in this story

eligible – adj. qualified to participate in a program or activity

coach – not. someone whose job is to teach people how to improve in a sport, skill or school subject

motivate – v. give someone a reason to do something

status – not. the state of a situation at a given time

insurrection – not. the use of force by a group of people to try to take control of a government

to reassure – v. say something to keep someone from worrying

deadline – not. a time when something needs to be done

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