BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — With Baltimore City Public Schools’ vaccine mandate going into effect, the vast majority of the school district’s teachers and staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the district said Tuesday.

More than 85% of staff have been vaccinated, including over 90% of the district’s teachers and 97% of its principals, according to figures provided by a school district spokesperson, who estimated Baltimore City Public Schools has more vaccinated teachers than any of its peers in Maryland.

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The school district on Sept. 20 imposed a deadline, giving educators and staff until November to either get the vaccine or obtain an exemption — or they could risk disciplinary consequences, which could be as severe as losing their job.

“I think everybody should get vaccinated,” Baltimore resident Roxanne Rehack said. “The science has proven that vaccinations are the only way that we are going to stop Covid.”

In a statement Tuesday, a district spokesperson said some staffers have applied for religious or medical exemptions, which are being handled on a case-by-case basis. The district’s human resources office will follow up with unvaccinated individuals who haven’t sought an exemption.

As for the disciplinary action, BCPS director of communications Andre Riley said, “That could go up to termination, but that’s not our goal.”

Of the school district’s 5,200 teachers, more than 90% have been vaccinated.

In Howard County, which also requires school staff to provide proof of vaccination or undergo routine testing, over 90% of staff have been vaccinated. That’s significantly higher than 52% of teachers who have been vaccinated in Harford County, which doesn’t have a vaccine mandate.

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Like Harford, Carroll County doesn’t require school employees to get vaccinated. That school district  said 85% of staff have been vaccinated.

In Baltimore County schools, about 95% of employees have either provided proof of vaccination or signed up for routine test, a spokesperson told WJZ.

City residents who spoke with WJZ on Tuesday were split over whether the vaccine should be required.

“It’s a safety precaution,” one parent said. “That’s how I look at it. It’s something that should be done.”

“It’s still a choice on them. They have to make that choice,” another said.

But for some, vaccines are a no-brainer.

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“I think it’s ridiculous,” Carol Calvert said. “Enough is enough with this foolishness. We need to be firm that this is the life-saving safety measure, and we all need to do it.”

Ava-joye Burnett