Every New York City employee, except corrections officers, must get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before the end of this month — or they’ll be sent home without pay until they finally roll up their sleeves, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
The new vaccine mandate applies to the entire municipal workforce, including all members of the NYPD, FDNY and Sanitation Department. Mandates had been in place previously for all Department of Education and New York City Health + Hospitals workers since September.
Under the new mandate, all New York City workers must have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29. Any unvaccinated worker after that time will be placed on unpaid leave until they show proof of vaccination to their supervisor.
“There is no greater privilege than serving the people of New York City, and that privilege comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe,” said de Blasio. “We have led the way against COVID-19 – from fighting for the right to vaccinate frontline workers, to providing nation-leading incentives, to creating the Key to NYC mandate. As we continue our recovery for all of us, city workers have been a daily inspiration. Now is the time for them to show their city the path out of this pandemic once and for all.”
The city’s also sweetening the pot for municipal workers who might still be hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine — offering a $500 bonus if these workers get their first dose at a city-run vaccination site before 5 p.m. on Oct. 29.
The situation’s a little different for the Corrections Department, which is scrambling to address safety issues on Rikers Island. While all civilian corrections employees and uniformed members assigned to healthcare settings are subject to the new mandate, other uniformed corrections workers are subject to the mandate as of Dec. 1.
Vaccine mandates, the mayor has previously said, have helped convince hesitant New Yorkers to get the shot. After mandates were issued in late September, vaccination rates for Department of Education and Health + Hospitals employees now stand at 96% and 95%, respectively.
By contrast, according to published reports, the vaccination rates for NYPD and FDNY employees, as of last week, stood at 69% and 59%, respectively. Officials with unions representing police officers and firefighters have resisted calls for a mandate, though they have encouraged their members to get the vaccine.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, threatened to take the city to court — alleging that vaccinations were a matter of personal choice.
“From the beginning of the de Blasio administration‘s haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor,” Lynch said in a statement. “Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members’ rights.”
The de Blasio Administration indicated that it would begin impact bargaining with the affected unions immediately.
With reporting from Reuters