Covid Live Updates: Thousands of New York Health Workers Got Vaccinated Before Deadline
Statewide, 92 percent of hospital employees are said to have now received at least one dose. The Delta variant was a main factor driving Americans to get shots in recent months, a survey found.
Thousands of health care workers in New York got inoculated against Covid-19 ahead of Monday’s deadline, helping the state avoid a worst-case scenario of staffing shortages at hospitals and nursing homes.
Health officials across the state reported that employees had rushed to get vaccinated before Monday, avoiding being suspended or getting fired. New York has 600,000 health care workers.
Statewide, the vaccination rate for hospital employees rose by Monday night to 92 percent of workers having received at least one dose, according to preliminary data from the governor’s office. The rate for nursing homes also jumped to 92 percent on Monday, from 84 percent five days earlier.
Many nursing homes were facing serious staffing shortages before the mandate, making any new staff reductions potentially dangerous.
In the New York City public hospital system, more than 8,000 workers were unvaccinated a week ago. But by Monday morning that number had dropped to 5,000 — just over 10 percent of the work force. Although those unvaccinated employees were not permitted to work, city officials said that they felt they could manage the gaps.
In Rochester, officials at Strong Memorial Hospital placed a two-week pause on scheduling elective procedures and warned patients to expect longer wait times for routine appointments as the deadline loomed last week. But on Monday they said that they had been able to bring up their staff vaccination rate to 95.5 percent, from 92 percent last week, meaning that fewer than 300 employees out of 16,000 will be fired if they don’t relent.
“Some are still very scared,” said Kathleen Parrinello, the hospital’s chief operating officer. “So they need hand-holding and reassurance.” Other employees, she said, had told her that they were not convinced that they should get vaccinated but also did not want to lose their jobs.
Opposition to the mandate remains strong, despite the 11th-hour vaccinations. At least eight lawsuits challenging it have been filed, some based on First Amendment grounds and others arguing that the state should recognize immunity from prior infection as equivalent protection. In one federal case, health care workers are demanding that the state allow religious exemptions.