Sep 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New York COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state health workers goes into effect

Picture of a health worker vaccinating a child
Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Health care workers in New York state will be required to have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine starting Monday.

Driving the news: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Saturday released a "comprehensive plan" to address any potential health staff shortages, which includes the possibility of declaring a state of emergency to increase workforce supply and allow health professionals in other states, as well as recent graduates and retired health professionals, to practice in New York.

  • The plan would also call in medically trained National Guard members.

What she's saying: "I am monitoring the staffing situation closely, and we have a plan to increase our health care workforce and help alleviate the burdens on our hospitals and other health care facilities," Hochul said in a statement.

  • "I commend all of the health care workers who have stepped up to get themselves vaccinated, and I urge all remaining health care workers who are unvaccinated to do so now so they can continue providing care."

By the numbers: 84% of the 450,000 hospital workers in New York have been fully vaccinated as of Sept. 22, according to the latest state data.

The big picture: A group of workers in the state's health system has railed against the mandate, with several willing to risk getting fired than to get vaccinated, the New York Times reports. Anti-vaccine-mandate protests have taken place across the state.

  • Some workers have taken the mandate to court. Last week, a federal judge extended a temporary restraining order that prevents the state from enforcing the mandate against 17 health workers until Oct. 12.
  • Many have argued that since they have previously been infected, they believe they have natural immunity. However, the CDC says vaccination offers higher protection than previous infection.

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