NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers in the state Monday.
Healthcare workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care and other congregate care settings, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 27.
"The State Department of Health will issue Section 16 Orders requiring all hospital, LTCF, and nursing homes to develop and implement a policy mandating employee vaccinations, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons," a release says.
The governor's office released the following data on how many healthcare workers have already completed their vaccine series:
- 75% of the state's ~450,000 hospital workers
- 74% of the state's ~30,000 adult care facility workers
- 68% of the state's ~145,500 nursing home workers
When COVID ambushed New York last year, New Yorkers acted, while the Federal Government denied the problem. Now, the Delta variant is spreading across the nation and across New York -- new daily positives are up over 1000% over the last six weeks [governor.ny.gov], and over 80 percent of recent positives in New York State are linked to the Delta variant. We must now act again to stop the spread. Our healthcare heroes led the battle against the virus, and now we need them to lead the battle between the variant and the vaccine. We have always followed the science, and we're doing so again today, with these recommendations by Dr. Zucker and federal and state health experts. But we need to do more. I have strongly urged private businesses to implement vaccinated-only admission policies, and school districts to mandate vaccinations for teachers. Neither will occur without the state legally mandating the actions -- private businesses will not enforce a vaccine mandate unless it's the law, and local school districts will be hesitant to make these challenging decisions without legal direction.
While we have made tremendous progress in getting New Yorkers vaccinated, this pandemic is far from over and more must be done. The data and science tell us that getting more people vaccinated as quickly as possible is the best way to keep people safe, prevent further mutations, and enable us to resume our daily routines. This mandate will both help close the vaccination gap and reduce the spread of the Delta variant. I want to thank all New York State's healthcare workers for stepping up once again and showing our state that getting vaccinated is safe, easy, and most importantly, effective.
Cuomo announced his resignation last week which is effective August 25. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul is set to take over at that point and the governor's office says the Hochul administration was briefed prior to this announcement.
The governor previously announced all patient-facing healthcare workers at State hospitals would be required to get vaccinated, this announcement expands to all healthcare workers in the state.
The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) released a statement Monday in support of the announcement:
Vaccinating health care workers to protect against COVID-19 will benefit the most medically vulnerable people in our state and county, especially immunocompromised individuals and children who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, and reduce their risk of COVID-19 exposure in hospitals and nursing homes. Increasing the number of Erie County residents and workers who are vaccinated will contribute to a healthier county, a healthier healthcare workforce, and will give patients, nursing home and adult care facility residents, and their families piece of mind that there is an additional layer of protection in these settings.
Kaleida Health released the following statement Monday:
“We are aware of the Governor’s announcement today about mandating the Covid-19 vaccine. Where we have the ability to create our own policies, we have certainly worked diligently with our workforce to do so. However, when a new law or regulation governs, which happened quite often during the pandemic last year, we follow New York State mandates. That is unless and until additional changes or compromises to those mandates are made.
All that said, we are awaiting official guidance from the New York State Department of Health as to how this will be implemented moving forward. While we want to be compliant, there are obviously many questions and concerns from our workforce that need to be addressed. As an organization overall, we are extremely proud to have reached 81% vaccination for our Phase 1A population.”
NYSDOH has also authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for New Yorkers with compromised immune systems following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation last week. The governor's office says those who are eligible can receive their third dose 28 days after the completion of their two-dose vaccine series.
The CDC recommends those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive an additional dose, including those who have:
• Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood;
• Received an organ transplant and are taking medications to suppress the immune system;
• Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system;
• Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome);
• Advanced or untreated HIV infection;
• Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, cancer chemotherapy that causes sever immunosuppression, or other medications that may suppress your immune response.
Officials say you should contact your healthcare provider to see if getting an additional dose is appropriate for you.