All New York City childcare program workers and early intervention employees must get the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 20, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday, the latest in a series of vaccine mandates issued for city workers since the summer.
Officials hope that the mandate will ensure that all 90,000 city childcare workers and the 12,000 New Yorkers employed in an early intervention program get inoculated against the virus.
“This is going to be important for the employees for their own health, obviously, but it is also important for protecting the health of these kids that are in these childcare programs,” said de Blasio. “We know these mandates work and they keep our kids safe, we’ve seen it in our public schools.”
In August, de Blasio issued a vaccine mandate for all Department of Education workers ahead of the full return of the city’s over 1 million public school students to physical classrooms. Since then, 96% of all DOE employees—which includes central office staff, teachers, principals, administrative staff, cafeteria workers, and school safety agents— have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the most recent City vaccination data from the week of Nov. 22.
The new mandate comes as officials express concerns over the spread of the omicron COVID-19 variant. De Blasio along with City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi told reporters that no cases of the new variant have been detected in the five boroughs yet but “it is very likely there will be,” de Blasio said. As a result, the mayor has ordered all New Yorkers to wear face masks indoors regardless of vaccination status in order to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
“Everyone knows that there is a lot of information we need and that might take days to come in but we are going to be in a very vigilant state and will be taking any and all actions as we get facts to support them,” de Blasio said.