More than nine in ten hospital and nursing home staff in New York State are now vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
At least 60,000 hospital workers received their first doses in the last month, leading up to the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, which took effect Monday.
In both hospitals and nursing homes, 92 percent of staffers are now vaccinated, while 89 percent of staff in New York State’s adult care facilities are vaccinated.
But 36,000 hospital staff members – and thousands more employees in nursing home home and adult care facilities – may be out of work soon if they don’t comply with the mandate.
Governor Kathy Hochul has prepared for a potential staff shortage by expanding eligibility for providing Covid-related services in the state. The governor is prepared to call in the National Guard if needed, she said.
Healthcare workers in New York State now must be vaccinated to keep their jobs, according to a state-wide mandate.
The mandate was announced by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo in August, and was upheld by Hochhul when she succeeded him.
It was one of the first – and one of the largest – such mandates to be announced in the U.S.
About 450,000 workers in hospitals are impacted by the requirement, along with thousands more nursing home and adult care facility staff.
The mandate made a significant impact on vaccinations for these workers, Hochul announced Tuesday.
More than nine in ten hospital workers and nursing home workers are vaccinated with at least one dose, according to a New York Department of Health survey conducted on September 27.
About 92 percent of hospital workers are now vaccinated – up from 77 percent about one month ago, on August 24.
That increase represents about 67,500 hospital workers who got their first shots after the vaccine mandate was announced.
Similarly, 92 percent of nursing home staff are now vaccinated – up from 71 percent one month ago.
The number is slightly lower for staff working in adult care facilities – 89 percent.
‘This new information shows that holding firm on the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers is simply the right thing to do to protect our vulnerable family members and loved ones from Covid,’ Hochul said.
‘I am pleased to see that healthcare workers are getting vaccinated to keep New Yorkers safe, and I am continuing to monitor developments and ready to take action to alleviate potential staffing shortage situations in our health care systems,’ she said.
About 36,000 hospital workers remain unvaccinated – and now face potential job loss due to their vaccination status.
A small number of those healthcare workers have protested the state mandate, along with some teachers and school staff.
On Monday, Northwell Health announced that it had fired about two dozen ‘unvaccinated leaders’ who worked at management level in the hospital system.
Northwell Health is the largest health provider in the state, with about 74,000 employees in total.
Northwell said in a statement that, last week, it reached out to a ‘few hundred’ employees to remind them of the impending vaccination deadline.
‘We are now beginning the process to exit the rest of our unvaccinated staff,’ the statement read.
Other hospitals are following this trend – firing unvaccinated staff in order to comply with the state requirement.
In Buffalo, Erie County Medical Center was forced to suspend non-essential surgeries as it prepares to fire ‘hundreds of unvaccinated employees,’ a spokesman told Reuters.
‘We had to make a decision as to where we could temporarily make some changes so that we could ensure other areas of services are as little affected as possible,’ spokesman Peter Cutler said.
Hochul is prepared to address a potential healthcare worker shortage by calling upon medically trained National Guard members and retirees, along with vaccinated workers from other states.
The governor signed an Executive Order on Monday night, allowing more healthcare workers to provide Covid tests and vaccinations in New York.
State leaders are monitoring staffing operations, and are ready to ‘provide guidance to health care facilities and help troubleshoot acute situations with providers as necessary,’ the governor’s office said.