Time is up for New York Healthcare Workers to Get Their Shots
By Yehudit Garmaise
Today, Sept. 27 is the day that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo had said on Aug. 16 that all New York state healthcare workers must be vaccinated, or lose their jobs.
Although Mitch Katz, MD, the CEO of Health + Hospitals said this morning that 98 to 99% of doctors and more than 95% of the city’s nurses at public hospitals have been vaccinated, 11.6% healthcare staffers with lower paying jobs have not agreed to getting vaccinated as readily.
Out of 43,000 of the total healthcare employees in Health + Hospitals in New York City, 5,000 remain unvaccinated, and those healthcare workers will not be allowed to work today, said Dr. Katz, who said he will have better numbers at the end of the day today.
“If someone comes in for their shift unvaccinated, we will send them to the vaccination clinic, and then they can report for work,” said Dr. Katz, who explained that the US eradicated smallpox after unpopular vaccine mandates. “If people are not vaccinated, they are not going to get paid for today. But today and tomorrow, if they get vaccinated, they can resume their posts.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the reality is: people who refuse vaccination may have to think long and hard before giving up their jobs and their paychecks.
Dave A. Chokshi, MD, the city’s health commissioner said that his own clinic at Bellevue Hospital, he found his colleagues to be enthusiastic and not argumentative about getting vaccinated.
“I think people who want to feel safe in the environments they are in because it is the right thing to do for their colleagues and the people they are taking care of,” Dr. Chokshi said this morning.
Two days ago, Gov. Kathy Hochul said that if severe staffing shortages result from the state mandate for healthcare workers to get vaccinated, by executive order, she will borrow staff from out of state, bring in retired workers, or medically trained members of the National Guard.
“We can get the [vaccine] holdouts to understand the power they have to help us get back to normal, and I’m pleaded with them to see that perspective,” Gov. Hochul said.
In New York City today, more than 82% of adults in New York City have had at least one vaccine dose, said Mayor de Blasio, who added that New Yorkers who got Pfizer shots who are 65 and older, who are immunocompromised, and who work in high-risk settings can now get booster shots.
Those who are eligible who got Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots may soon be able to receive boosters, as well.
Regarding the school vaccination mandate, which started Sept. 13, in which teachers must vaccinate or test weekly, “There was a court action late Friday: a temporary hold, but not a full trial,” the mayor said. “We expect, as early as the end of this week that we will go to the full vaccine mandate, but of course, we will go through the whole court process.
“There is going to be a full procedure at the end of this week, and we are very, very confident that the city, the Department of Education is going to prevail because we are trying to protect kids, we are trying to protect families, we are trying to protect working people in our schools.
Because of the mayor’s vaccine mandate, the number of vaccinations in the Department of Education, of which 87% of employees have had at least one dose, have shot upward.
While the United Federation of teachers said its numbers are even higher, “90% of teachers, 97% of principals have led the way, and just last weekend, 7,000 more New York City teachers stepped up to get vaccinated,” a number the mayor said, “says great things about our ability to have a safe school system and keep everything moving really, really well for our kids.”
In addition, 5 to 11-year-olds may be eligible for vaccination next month, said Mayor de Blasio, who added, “We will work with all the tools we have to keep [the vaccination process] moving [and end the pandemic.]”
(Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Formor Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)