NYC Vaccine Mandate Kicks In With Little Disruption, Mayor Says
(Bloomberg) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the vast majority of municipal employees are complying with the Covid-19 vaccine mandate, resulting in little disruption to services as the requirement kicked in for police, firefighters and sanitation workers.
De Blasio said Monday that about 9,000 employees have been placed on unpaid leave for not receiving the shot while another 12,000 will keep working as requests for exemptions are reviewed. That amounts to a small share of the city’s workforce of nearly 400,000.
Overall, de Blasio said 91% of the city’s employees have been vaccinated. Health-care and school-system workers faced earlier mandates.
Despite protests from some holdouts, de Blasio said the effect on city services so far has been minimal.
“We have very strong numbers among our workforce,” he said. “We’re not seeing disruptions.”
New York is among the growing ranks of employers who have imposed vaccination requirements on employees in a bid to end the pandemic.
“I’m going to say upfront to every mayor in America, to every governor in America, to every CEO of a company in America, go to a full vaccination mandate because it will allow us to end the Covid era once and for all,” he said. “We’ve got to end it. This is how we do it.”
The vaccination rate for the police department jumped to 84% from 70% when the mandate was announced on Oct. 20, the mayor said. Some 77% of the firefighting workforce is vaccinated, while the rate for emergency medical services is 88% and 83% for sanitation workers.
De Blasio said that the public safety departments have been able to manage through any staff shortages.
Response times from the police and fire departments are “normal,” de Blasio said. Only 34 out of about 35,000 workers on the uniform side of the police department are on unpaid leave, as are 40 out of approximately 17,000 on the civilian side, according to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
But the fire department has seen a greater-than-usual number of workers going on sick leave, which Commissioner Daniel Nigro linked to resistance to the vaccine requirement. He said 18 of the city’s 350 fire units were out of service Monday morning and “many” units were understaffed, though no firehouses have closed.
“Since the mandate was issued, our medical leave spiked up, and we know that’s related to protests against the mandate,” the fire commissioner said. “This is completely unacceptable.”
But, Nigro said the department is “functioning quite well” with other workers filling in.
De Blasio said there were problems for a few days with the sanitation department, but workers were required to work Sunday to catch up.
De Blasio said the process for reviewing exemptions will play out in the next few days. When an earlier mandate was imposed for schools staff, relatively few exemptions were granted in the end, he said.
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