New York State healthcare facilities have begun terminating the employment of hundreds of workers across the state who did not comply with the state COVID-19 mandate.
The measure went into effect at midnight on Tuesday, after the initial announcement of the mandate by former governor Andrew Cuomo on August 16, which required all healthcare workers across the state to have received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by this week. While some healthcare facilities have immediately fired employees who refused the vaccine, others have suspended the non-conforming employees and given them 30 days to get vaccinated or be terminated permanently. The only exceptions were for workers with medical, religious or other qualifying exemptions.
Since the mandate was implemented, most of the healthcare workers in the state have complied. Nursing home staff have reached 92 percent vaccinated, and the percentage of hospital staff also at 92 percent at the time the deadline passed, according to an update from Governor Kathy Hochul.
Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of NYC Health + Hospitals, told reporters at a news conference this week alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio that New York City public hospitals had vaccinated all but 5,000 of its 43,000 workers by the deadline.
The deadline comes just days ahead of the Friday deadline for New York City school staff to get vaccinated, with no option to be regularly tested instead. As the deadline approaches, about 13 percent of school employees are not yet vaccinated. New York is not the only state implementing such measures, as more cities and states gear up for possible staff shortages due to vaccine mandates in the workplace.
Washington state healthcare workers must be vaccinated by October 19 or risk termination. Washington and New York are joined in their “vaccine or termination” policy by Colorado, Maine, Oregon and Rhode Island. Other states offer an option to get vaccinated or regularly tested, while some states require vaccination or testing and masking. The latest current deadline for vaccination or termination is in Colorado, where healthcare workers must be vaccinated by October 31.