New York City Requiring Vaccinations for All Municipal Employees

Public employees have until Oct. 29 to get their first shot while correction officers are not subject to mandate until Dec. 1.

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New York City will require all municipal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the month — without the option to be tested weekly for the virus — strengthening the city’s vaccine mandate for its municipal workforce

The order, announced Wednesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, applied to 160,500 city workers, although 71 percent of them have already met the requirement by getting at least one dose of the vaccines, according to the city. That leaves more than 46,000 city staffers who will be required to get their first dose by Oct. 29.

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“As we continue our recovery for all of us, city workers have been a daily inspiration,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Now is the time for them to show their city the path out of this pandemic once and for all.” 

De Blasio also sweetened the pot for city workers who have waited until now to get vaccinated by offering $500 to any employee who receives his or her first dose at a city site before the Oct. 29 deadline. 

The mayor gave about 8,000 New York City Department of Correction officers a later deadline of Dec. 1 as the city struggles to maintain staffing levels at Rikers Island. City staff has called the jail complex unsafe and unsanitary, and nearly a third of correctional officers are out sick or can’t work with prisoners, leaving units unguarded as a court backlog traps those awaiting trial into longer stays, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

About 70 percent of the New York City Police Department have at least one dose of the vaccine, while only 60 percent of the Fire Department of the City of New York and 51 percent of the Department of Corrections can say the same, according to city data.

The city will place staffers who don’t comply with the vaccine mandate by Oct. 29 on unpaid leave until they show proof of vaccination to their supervisors, according to the mayor’s announcement

The mandate is a stronger version of the city’s previous requirement, where municipal workers needed to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by mid-September or undergo weekly testing. But it is in line with the city’s previous directive for New York City Department of Education employees, which did not include a testing option.  

Approximately 72 percent of New York City residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 66 percent, or about 5.5 million people, are fully vaccinated, according to city data. Manhattan residents have the highest rate of vaccination, with 81 percent having at least one dose and 74 percent are fully vaccinated. 

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.