N.Y.’s Covid Vaccine Mandate Tested by Pushback From Workers

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N.Y.’s Covid Vaccine Mandate Tested by Pushback From Workers

Many of New York’s health care workers have resisted the order because they are worried about potential side effects from the vaccines, or have challenged it because they say it violates their personal freedom. Covid vaccines have proven to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections, severe illness and death, and side effects of the vaccine, if any, tend to be minor and short-lived.

New York officials are bracing for possible staffing disruptions at health care facilities. Ms. Hochul said last week that she might declare a state of emergency and deploy National Guard troops, or even recruit temporary workers from the Philippines or Ireland, if they are needed to replace unvaccinated health care workers.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that President Biden’s administration supported vaccine mandates, including New York’s and those in other health care systems around the country, as well as contingency plans to ensure adequate staffing if the mandates resulted in personnel shortages.

Many hospital systems had imposed vaccine mandates with relatively little impact on the size of their staffs, Ms. Psaki said.

On Monday, Ms. Hochul reiterated that the state was prepared to work with hospitals to address any staff shortages, and repeatedly labeled potential shortages as “preventable.”

“It’s not a role I relish,” Ms. Hochul said about enforcing the state mandate. “But I also realistically know that there are people who will not come back to their jobs.”

In interviews, doctors and nurses in New York City said that some holdouts were getting vaccinated as the deadline neared. At St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, the percentage of employees with at least one dose jumped from 88 percent on Friday to 94 percent by late Monday morning, the hospital’s chief medical officer, Eric Appelbaum, said in an interview. He noted that many of the holdouts had gotten vaccinated at pharmacies over the weekend. “I did not think it would be this good,” he said, adding that he had worried the vaccination rate would stall before reaching 90 percent.

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