New York and The Recent Vaccine Mandates

New York’s health and education departments are requiring all health care and educational workers in the state of New York to be vaccinated.


U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Holding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed across the nation.

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, places vaccination mandates all over the state.

The Monday of September 27th was the deadline for many health care workers in New York to have received the COVID-19 vaccine. August 26th was when the New York State Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) approved the regulation that institutes a vaccine mandate for New York health care facilities. This new regulation imposes the mandate on not just general hospitals and long-term care facilities, but to many other types of health care providers. Doctors, nurses, including support-staff, like food service workers and cleaners, are included in this mandate.

Even though this deadline has now been passed, many people have yet to get the vaccination. Which leads to the threat of thousands of health care workers being potentially forced off the job. “Every single person who is in your care has the right to know that there is no chance they will be infected by the person in charge of protecting them and their health,”  Kathy Hochul, who is the current Governor of New York, told NPR. According to the news source, Hochul showed no signs of backing down on the deadline or mandate, which left hospitals and nursing homes having to prepare contingency plans that include cutting back on elective surgeries and halting maternity services, at one hospital.

Along with the vaccine, masks are another way of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“I’ve had personal conversations with team members, and I was asked by one: ‘Are you really going to fire us on the 27th?’ And I said, let’s put that aside for a minute and let’s talk about saving your life. Why don’t you want to get vaccinated?” Maxine Carrington, who is Northwell Health’s chief human resources officer, told NPR. Carrington also stated that they’re seeing a lot more vaccination appointments being scheduled, and those who refuse will no longer be employed there. New York-Presbyterian, which is one of New York state’s largest hospital systems, had imposed an earlier vaccination deadline on its workers, which was Wednesday at midnight, and had reported less than 250 of 48,000 staff members failing to comply. Alexandra Langan,  spokesperson of NYP, stated that those who don’t comply will not continue to work at NYP. Though, at The University of Rochester Medical Center had announced a two-week pause in scheduling new procedures, also temporarily closing two urgent care centers.

According to New York Times, Ninety-two percent of New York’s hospital and nursing home workers, 650,000 of them, had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which was a significant increase from a week ago, where only eighty-two percent of the nursing home workers and eighty-four percent of the hospital workers had received a dose. Because of the mandate rule ending on Monday, New York got one of the highest rates of vaccination among health care workers nationally. Although so many people got vaccinated in the last few days leading up to the deadline, many people protested it in response. Along with the protests, New York Times reports that there was at least eight lawsuits rose against the mandates in New York, showing that despite the many who are willing to get vaccinated, thousands would still rather resign or be fired rather than get vaccinated.

Along with getting vaccinated, while the cases are still rising, staying six feet apart while wearing a mask is still recommended.

One of the many reasons people are attempting to rebel against this mandate has to do with religion. This regulation attempts to shut down any potential exemption from getting the vaccine, such as religious beliefs, which used to be, or at least until October 12th as a federal judge considers a legal challenge, where it might be unconstitutional, a reason that was allowing people to not get the vaccine. As of now, New York state temporarily must allow exemptions from the mandate for religious objections. Delaying this mandate, “poses the risk of infection, complications, and death to the vulnerable population that they serve,” New York said in the court papers, where they have held upheld vaccination requirements for more than a century. Steven Wu, who is a lawyer for the state, told Bloomberg that the vaccine rule is neutral toward religion, as it is no different then requiring health care workers to get vaccinations against measles and other illnesses.

Many people are refusing to get the vaccination, whether it be for personal choice or for religious purposes. Many companies, even before the mandate in New York, were requiring vaccinations or weekly tests. Not only is it just health care workers, and perhaps teachers in New York, requiring vaccinations, San Francisco has become the first major city to require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for people dining inside of restaurants, and the employees having to get the shot by October 13th.

School clinics contain educational workers and also health workers, where a vaccination is most needed.

This past Monday, the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, has been pushing for teacher vaccination requirements. The requirement is that everyone who works in the city’s public schools should be vaccinated against COVID-19, which brought many of the education employees to get at least one dose of the vaccine in the past week. According to New York Times, around 43,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered since late August, when the mandate was announced, which about 95 percent of school employees–99 percent of principals, 96 percent of teachers, and 94 percent of non-educational staff–have received a shot. “These mandates work, and we’re going to consider in the days ahead what else makes sense to do,” Mr. de Blasio said to The New York Times during a conference this past Monday, when he was asked about potential mandates for other city workers.

Consequences for not getting the vaccine are much more intense than they have been. Around 8,000 employees had refused to be vaccinated and then were placed onto unpaid leave. Those educators who get vaccinated after the deadline can return to working at the school after they have received at least one dose. The second shot deadline is required, as well, though the dates and details have not been released, yet.

This mandate has taken many out of work, but New York is not stepping down, as the public health is a major concern in these mandates. With both health care workers and educational workers having a vaccination mandate, many other city workers might be next.