More than nine in ten hospital and nursing home workers in New York state have now been vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
At least 60,000 hospital workers received their first doses in the past month, leading to the state’s vaccine mandate for health professionals, which took effect Monday.
In both hospitals and nursing homes, 92 percent of staff are now vaccinated, while 89 percent of staff in adult care facilities in New York state are vaccinated.
But 36,000 hospital staff — and thousands of other workers in nursing homes and adult care facilities — could soon be out of work if they don’t adhere to the mandate.
Governor Kathy Hochul has been preparing for a potential staff shortage by expanding the eligibility to provide Covid-related services in the state. The governor is willing to call in the National Guard if necessary, she said.
More than 90% of New York’s hospital and nursing home staff are now vaccinated. Pictured: Theresa Clarke, nurse manager at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital, was the first staffer at her facility to be vaccinated on December 15, 2020
Governor Kathy Hochul is willing to call in the National Guard if necessary to address a shortage of health personnel. Pictured: Hochul speaks to the press, September 2021
New York state health workers must now be vaccinated to keep their jobs, under a statewide mandate.
The mandate was announced in August by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo and was confirmed by Hochhul when she succeeded him.
It was one of the first – and one of the largest – such mandates announced in the US
About 450,000 hospital workers are affected by the requirement, along with thousands of additional staff in nursing homes and adult care facilities.
The mandate had a significant impact on the vaccinations of these workers, Hochul announced Tuesday.
More than nine in 10 hospital and nursing home workers are vaccinated with at least one dose, according to a New York Department of Health survey on Sept. 27.
About 92 percent of hospital workers are now vaccinated — up from 77 percent about a month ago, on Aug. 24.
That increase represents about 67,500 hospital workers who received their first injections after the vaccine mandate was announced.
Similarly, 92 percent of nursing home staff are now vaccinated — up from 71 percent a month ago.
The number is slightly lower for staff working in adult care facilities – 89 percent.
“This new information shows that sticking to the vaccine mandate for health professionals is simply the right choice to protect our vulnerable family members and loved ones from Covid,” Hochul said.
“I’m excited to see health workers getting vaccinated to keep New Yorkers safe, and I’ll continue to monitor developments and be ready to take action to alleviate potential staffing shortages in our health care systems,” she said.
Vaccination rates for health professionals in New York are much higher than vaccination rates in the overall population. Manhattan has the highest percentage of all counties, at 81.5 percent
About 36,000 hospital workers are still unvaccinated – and now face potential job losses due to their vaccination status.
A small number of those health workers, along with some teachers and school staff, have protested the state mandate.
On Monday, Northwell Health announced it had fired about two dozen “unvaccinated leaders” who worked at the management level in the hospital system.
Northwell Health is the largest healthcare provider in the state, with a total of approximately 74,000 employees.
Northwell said in a statement it contacted a “few hundred” employees last week to remind them of the approaching vaccination deadline.
“We are now beginning the process to leave the rest of our unvaccinated staff,” the statement read.
People gathered for a demonstration against New York’s Covid vaccine mandates on September 27, 2021, the day the state mandate for health workers came into effect
Other hospitals are following this trend by firing unvaccinated staff to comply with the state’s requirement.
In Buffalo, the Erie County Medical Center was forced to suspend non-essential operations as it prepares to lay off “hundreds of unvaccinated workers,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
“We had to make a decision about where we could temporarily make some changes so that we could ensure that other services are affected as little as possible,” said spokesman Peter Cutler.
Hochul is willing to address a potential shortage of health workers by enlisting medically trained National Guard members and retirees, along with vaccinated workers from other states.
The governor signed an executive order Monday night, allowing more health workers to provide Covid testing and vaccinations in New York.
State leaders oversee staffing activities and are poised to “provide guidance to healthcare facilities and assist in resolving acute situations with healthcare providers as needed,” the governor’s office said.