Vaccine mandate for New York City workers takes effect Monday

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NEW YORK — On Monday, about 9,000 workers in New York — mostly police officers, firefighters and sanitation employees — were put on unpaid leave for refusing to adbide by the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate , according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

About another 10,000 workers remained unvaccinated, but were being considered for medical exemptions that would allow them to work and get tested weekly.

de Blasio said on Monday that 91% of the city’s total municipal workforce had gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine as of Monday. That number rose from about 83% on Friday night. Overall, vaccination rates among workers impacted by the mandate increased by 14% over the span of 10 days, according to the mayor’s office.

About 84% of NYPD employees have complied with the mandate. The EMS arm of the FDNY reported an 88% vaccination rate as of Monday morning, while firefighters reported a 77% vaccination rate. The sanitation department reported an 83% vaccination rate.

Despite repeated warnings from some unions about slowdowns in service, the mayor insisted the city is safe and response times for 911 calls will not be impacted.

Members of the FDNY firefighters union said they were not anti-vaccine, but rather, anti-mandate. The union called the mandate deadline “unconscionable,” arguing that there should have been more time allotted for them to get vaccinated.

“The department has not closed any firehouses. Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow Firefighters. They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement.

In the past week, 2,000 members of the FDNY have been out on medical leave, according to the department. Over half of those on sick leave are unvaccinated, according to FDNY Deputy Commissioner Frank Dwyer.

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