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De Blasio Tells City Workers: Get a Shot or Else

Intelligencer logo Intelligencer 7/26/2021 Nia Prater
a person standing in front of a window: Spencer Platt/Getty Images © Spencer Platt/Getty Images Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mayor de Blasio announced Monday that all municipal employees will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the beginning of the new school year or be subjected to weekly testing.

The New York Times reports that the requirement will “apply to roughly 340,000 city workers, including teachers and police officers.” Workers will have until September 13, which is the first full day of school for New York City students.

“This is about our recovery. This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City. This is about keeping people safe,” de Blasio said during a press conference. He added, “September is the pivot point of the recovery.”

The vaccine mandate will begin sooner for other city workers. The mayor previously announced a similar requirement, with an August 2 deadline, for medical workers employed by city health clinics or public hospitals. Additionally, 45,000 government employees that work in residential and congregate settings, such as nursing homes, will have until August 16 to comply. August 2 also marks the reinforcement of a mask mandate for unvaccinated city government employees.

“If you are unvaccinated and you are a city employee, beginning on Monday you must either wear a mask indoors at your worksite at all times or, if you would prefer not to, you have to immediately go get vaccinated,” de Blasio said.

An analysis completed by The City shows that the vaccination rates for many city agencies are lagging behind New York City’s general adult population. Reportedly, only 43 percent of the members of the NYPD are vaccinated and 51 percent of FDNY firefighters. The Department of Corrections, at 42 percent, has a lower rate than both of those departments.

Last week, de Blasio made his support for vaccine mandates clear and urged private employers to implement them for their own employees, saying the rule will “get more people vaccinated.”

“We have reached the limits of a purely voluntary system. It’s time for more mandates, different kinds, different places, different approaches,” de Blasio said in an interview with WNYC Friday.

The mayor reiterated that tone during today’s press conference, telling private employers to “go as far as you can go right now.”

“Each private sector employer needs to do what they believe is right. But I would strongly urge a vaccination mandate whenever possible or as close to it as possible. At minimum, requiring all of your employees to get vaccinated or to do weekly testing,” he said.

Reactions to the new city requirement have already begun to come in. NY1 reported that the NYC Uniformed Firefighters Association will oppose the vaccine requirement, saying the union is “pro-vaccine, but it’s also pro-choice.”

Henry Garrido, the executive director of DC 37, the city’s largest union of public employees, said in a statement, “If City Hall intends to test our members weekly, they must first meet us at the table to bargain. While we encourage everyone to get vaccinated and support measures to ensure our members’ health and wellbeing, weekly testing is clearly subject to mandatory bargaining. New York City is a union town and that cannot be ignored.”

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