All New York City employees will be required to get COVID vaccine

All employees for the City of New York will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, announced the de Blasio administration Wednesday.

Workers, excluding uniformed correction officers, will be required to have at least one dose by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. Unvaccinated employees will be placed on unpaid leave until they show proof of vaccination to their supervisor.

Starting Wednesday, city employees will receive an extra $500 in their paycheck for receiving their first shot at a city-run vaccination site. The benefit will end at 5 p.m. on Friday.

The mandate would apply to approximately 160,500 city workers. 71% of the workers affected by this mandate have already received at least one vaccine dose.

The new mandate is effective on Nov. 1 for the entire municipal workforce, including all NYPD, FDNY, and DSNY employees. Civilian employees of the Department of Correction (DOC) and uniformed members assigned to healthcare settings are also immediately subject to the mandate. Other uniformed members at DOC will be subject to mandate effective Dec. 1, as the city works to address the ongoing staffing situation at Rikers Island.

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"There is no greater privilege than serving the people of New York City, and that privilege comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We have led the way against COVID-19 – from fighting for the right to vaccinate frontline workers, to providing nation-leading incentives, to creating the Key to NYC mandate. As we continue our recovery for all of us, city workers have been a daily inspiration. Now is the time for them to show their city the path out of this pandemic once and for all."

Not surprisingly, several municipal labor unions objected to the mandate and are threatening lawsuits.

"From the beginning of the de Blasio administration's haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members' rights."

The head of DC 37 said a vaccine mandate has to be negotiated.

"We encourage all our members to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families," DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. "The proposed mandate must be collectively bargained and we expect City Hall to slow down and sit down with us."

In a statement, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Melanie Hartzog said vaccines are "critical" to ending the pandemic because they are about protecting the public at large.

"This mandate is a bold step that protects our families, friends, and communities, including those that are not yet eligible for the vaccine such as our City's youngest residents," Hartzog said. "It builds on our continued leadership and innovative strategies to fighting this pandemic and bring us a step closer to a recovery for all."

New York City has approximately 300,000 employees.

Earlier this month, de Blasio said he was looking at "all options" when it came to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for police officers — an idea backed by the city's police commissioner but opposed by its largest police union.

The department's vaccination rate has lagged behind the rest of the city, with some officers flat out refusing to get the shots.

Approximately 68% of the NYPD's workforce was vaccinated, according to Commissioner Dermot Shea, compared with 76% of adult New Yorkers who have been fully vaccinated. The NYPD has about 34,500 uniformed personnel and about 17,700 people in non-uniformed support positions.

With The Associated Press.