New York City will mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all city workers, eliminating a testing option.
Starting Wednesday, all employees who get their first shot at a city-run site will receive an extra $500 in their paycheck. The benefit will end on Oct. 29, the deadline for employees to submit proof of at least one dose, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
Employees not vaccinated by then will be placed on unpaid leave, the mayor said. The city will immediately begin “impact bargaining” with affected unions, according to the statement.
“The voluntary phase was very long,” de Blasio said Wednesday on MSNBC. “Now we’re saying we need you to do this.”
The mandate will immediately apply to about 160,500 workers, of which 71% have already received at least one vaccine dose, according to the statement. New York City police and firefighters are included in the requirement, while certain Department of Corrections employees will have until Dec. 1 to comply, “as the City works diligently to address the ongoing staffing situation at Rikers Island,” according to the statement.
In New York City, 65% of people are fully vaccinated, above the U.S. average of 57%. But some local government workers have resisted the mandate, including police officers and firefighters.
The city has been among the more aggressive state and local governments in terms of mandates, requiring health workers and teachers to get the shot and requiring vaccines for anyone entering restaurants, sports stadiums and museums. In recent weeks, thousands of teachers and education staff who didn’t get vaccinated were put on unpaid leave.
Now, de Blasio joins Los Angeles and San Francisco officials in eliminating the testing option and requiring the vaccine for all municipal workers.
“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,” de Blasio said in the statement. “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.”
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