800 Cops Got Their Shots Yesterday, with Two Days Left until Vaccine Mandate’s Friday Deadline
by Yehudit Garmaise
The nearly 27% of the NYPD that remains unvaccinated will be put on unpaid leave on Friday if they don’t get vaccinated, however, in a last-minute push in the last 24 hours, 800 police officers stepped up to get their first shot.
To be able to report to work on Monday, city workers must have gotten their first vaccine shots by 5pm on Friday, Oct. 29, however, NYPD Police Commissioner Shea, who supports the mandate, said, “We’re going to have vaccination sites open for the weekend for the NYPD.”
The vaccination numbers are increasing “minute-by-minute at this point,” said Commissioner Shea, who said that the department is both sending notifications to unvaccinated officers to remind them of Friday’s deadline.
The NYPD, Shea said, is also “planning for contingencies” if the last holdouts do not get their shots.
To prepare for gaps in staffing, Shea said that police officers may asked to work double shifts and get paid overtime to cover for their colleagues who refuse the vaccine.
This morning at his press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that agencies also will "shift assignments to where there's particular need.
"Our first responder agencies, our uniformed agencies went through so much last year where they had huge numbers of members out because of COVID, and they had to keep making constant adjustments to provide the services we need to keep people safe: and they did it, and they did it very well."
During the peak of COVID’s first wave of the coronavirus, nearly 20% of the NYPD were out sick with the virus.
"So, these are very agile organizations used to dealing with crisis, used to dealing with natural disasters," the mayor said. "They'd know plenty about how to make the right moves to keep everything going."
Although elected officials fought to ensure that police officers, as frontline workers and first responders, were among the first in line to get their shots when the vaccine first became available at the beginning of 2021, the police department has struggled to motivate all its officers to get their shots.
On Monday, anti-mandate protesters who marched on the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall said that vaccination should remain “their personal choices.”
In addition, many cops tried to claim religious exemptions so as to skirt the vaccine mandate.
However, officers who had never previously had religious objections in their files should expect their requests to be denied, a police source told The New York Post.
“Most are gonna get [the shot],” another police source said.
In addition, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the city’s largest union, has argued in a Staten Island court that its members preferred the choice to get vaccinated or to test for COVID weekly, but the city has requested that the PBA’s case be moved into federal court.
After Mayor de Blasio enforced the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place for school employees, which includes nearly 5,000 police school safety officers, the NYPD vaccination rate jumped nearly 10%.
“Vaccine mandates work,” said the mayor, who, in gratitude “for all they do for the city” also increased the usual $100 incentive to $500 for city workers who get their shots.
Although last week, the mayor said he felt that city workers’ commitment to helping others would encourage them to honor the city’s vaccine mandate, he also said realistically, “They are there for a paycheck. They work in noble professions, but they want to get paid, and they want to accrue time for their pensions that they will get later on.
“Folks are not going to give that up, by and large.”
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.