Time’s up for unvaccinated city workers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that all New York City public employees — including police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, and more — must receive at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by October 29. The exception is corrections officers, who will have until December 1, in the midst of a major staffing shortage at Rikers Island. Those who disregard the mandate will be placed on unpaid leave, and may eventually lose their jobs.
“We need to reassure all New Yorkers that if you’re working with a public employee, they’re vaccinated,” de Blasio said on MSNBC.
The new rule covers 160,500 workers, according to the Wall Street Journal, about 46,000 of whom are not yet vaccinated. The city will offer a $500 incentive to anyone who gets their shot at a city-run vaccination center before the deadline.
Previously, only educational and public-health workers fell under the city’s mandate, with which about 96 percent have complied. Until now, the rest of New York’s municipal employees could submit to regular testing instead of vaccination, but that carveout will end on the 29th.
Per the New York Times, several city departments have vaccination rates far lower than the educational and health-care sectors. The NYPD is at only 69 percent vaccinated, while firefighters and sanitation workers are at about 60 percent, and corrections officers are at a paltry 50 percent.
At least one roadblock to de Blasio’s plan may lie ahead. In cities around the country, police unions have rebelled over vaccine mandates, and it appears New York will be no different. In a tweet Wednesday morning, the Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, said that “we will proceed with legal action to protect our members’ rights.” However, other legal challenges against New York’s mandates have failed.