An MTA worker is seen wearing a mask on the subway after The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced a mandatory coronavirus vaccination or weekly test mandate for employees in New York City, New York, August 2, 2021.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
Vaccines Work. So do vaccine mandates. That’s why New York City officials are expected to expand requirements for all public employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot without giving them an option to test out.
City employees will receive $500 in their paycheck if they get their first shot at a City-run vaccination site, according to the mayor’s office.
Currently, under an executive order signed by the mayor last month, NYPD officers must either be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test each week but the new order expected to become official later Wednesday will require approximately 20,000 unvaccinated officers to get the shot by Oct. 29 or be placed on unpaid leave, officials said.
“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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
The NYPD has about 34,500 uniformed personnel and about 17,700 people in non-uniformed support positions. It had a vaccination rate of 61% last month, but that number increased to 68% in less than two weeks, according to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
The two commissioners who oversee the largest police and fire departments in the U.S. have already said earlier this month that they support the mandate for the members of their respective departments. Shea had even made impassioned pleas to officers in a video message, urging them to get inoculated.
The new mandate comes shortly after the city reached an 85% milestone of residents with at least one dose of the vaccine.
The five boroughs were the first to enact one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates, a sweeping measure that would require the shots for everyone entering a bar, restaurant, nail salon, gym or sports games, to boost the overall percentage of the population protected from COVID-19.
Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to encourage those who have not gotten vaccinated to do so. At the rate the city is going, he said, there are only about one million adult New Yorkers left that need to receive the COVID shot.
“At this point, there is only about one million adults left to be vaccinated and they keep coming in. The incentives the mandates, everything’s working,” de Blasio said.
The city’s mandate for restaurants and other businesses that has been in place since Sept. 13 has been going so well that only 15 businesses have been fined for not enforcing the policy, the mayor announced Wednesday.
De Blasio said the high rate of compliance shows that “the vast, vast, vast majority of restaurants and all the other businesses are saying, ‘Yes we’re going to work with this, we’re going to make it work for our employees, for our customers, keep everyone safe.’ Very few are standing apart.”
There are exceptions to the rule, including children under 12 — who are not yet eligible for vaccination — but that may soon change with Pfizer officially asking the Biden administration to authorize the use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
An FDA advisory committee plans to meet to discuss the request on Oct. 26. Pfizer said last month that its trial found the vaccine to be safe, while prompting a “well tolerated” and “robust” antibody response among the younger, targeted group. The vaccine for the youngest age group so far has a different dosage and dilution requirement and won’t be interchangeable with those used in adults, the company said.
No vaccine requirements have been set for children currently eligible, but New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has previously stated that is “an option.”