Around 19% of hospital workers and 18% of nursing home workers around New York still have not completed their COVID-19 vaccine series, according to the state Department of Health.
Health care workers have until Sept. 27 to receive at least their first vaccine dose, or they could be at risk of losing their job, but there are still some pushing back.
“No jab, no job,” protesters shouted outside the New York State Capitol on Wednesday. “We will not comply.”
Around 150 people gathered outside the State Capitol, including some health care workers, voicing their opposition against the looming vaccine mandate deadline and what they called government overreach.
This includes Andrew Giuliani, who is running to be the Republican nominee for governor.
“I am not an anti-vaccine person,” Giuliani explained. “I am an anti-government mandate vaccine person. I don't think the government should be mandating this. This should be an apolitical conversation between a doctor, families and the person who is ultimately going to get it. This shouldn't be threatening your job. We’ve heard a couple of different politicians say, ‘We used the carrot for so long, now we're going to use the stick.’ Taking away your jobs in some cases, as I've talked to many health care workers here, that to me is not acceptable.”
A federal judge has temporarily halted the vaccine mandate from going into effect for health care workers who say they have a religious exemption until Oct. 12.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit identify as having Catholic ideologies and oppose the COVID vaccine on moral grounds, despite Catholic Church leaders, including the Pope, encouraging people to get vaccinated.
The attorney general’s office filed a response to the temporary block, citing reasons why the state does have the authority to mandate vaccines, and wrote that temporarily halting the mandate undermines the state’s efforts to protect public health.
Polling shows that a majority of New Yorkers support a vaccine mandate for both schools and workplaces.
And around 74% of New Yorkers 18 years old and up are fully vaccinated.
Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin says this vaccine mandate is important to protect the health of New Yorkers.
“If this vaccine mutates on us who are vaccinated, we have got to go back to ground zero,” Benjamin said. “So I think it's important for everyone to think about the bigger picture, which is all of us. You getting vaccinated is for me and me getting vaccinated is for you, and I think that is the important thing for people to focus on. We're going to do everything we can as an administration to get to herd immunity as soon as possible.”
Concerns over staffing shortages due to the vaccine mandate, however, continue to grow. Hospitals are required to have backup staffing plans in place.