First, New York State has required healthcare workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Now they will also need to be boosted.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Friday that her administration would require healthcare workers to receive a booster injection within two weeks of being eligible, seeing it as a top-notch state-level requirement. The mandate will take effect Tuesday, when the Board of Public Health and Health Planning is expected to approve it. Workers can choose whether they want a Moderna or a Pfizer booster.
It builds on the state’s current vaccine mandate for industry players, which allows medical exemptions but otherwise lacks the ability to undergo regular COVID-19 testing to avoid the requirement.
Hochul called the recall mandate a critical step in tackling severe cases of COVID-19 among healthcare workers.
“We’ve already seen what’s going on in our healthcare environments,” Hochul said during a press briefing in Manhattan on Friday. “The staff get sick, they leave. We need them to get better. We need them to have the best fortification possible, and that also means they get a booster. “
Hochul’s tenure comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York City exceeded 11,500, although the state’s new workload has shown the first signs of a spike in recent days.
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo first announced in August that his administration would require healthcare workers to be fully immunized. It came into effect after Cuomo resigned, with workers expected to get at least their first shot by September 27.
Of the state’s one million healthcare workers, about 36,000 have been laid off or on leave since the mandate took effect, according to data from the state’s health department. It is not known how many of those who were put on leave returned.
New York City, on the other hand, has a vaccination mandate for all private and municipal workers. So far, that requirement has not extended to booster shots, although Mayor Eric Adams has said his administration is considering the possibility.
When asked on Friday what she would say to healthcare workers who might be reluctant to receive a recall, Hochul said the warrant is the state’s best tool to keep workers safe from the virus.
“We think it’s worth asking them to do the right thing once again,” Hochul said.
Hochul also announced new requirements for visits to nursing homes, gathering places where aging residents are particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.
Those who visit will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of the visit, Hochul said. They will also need to wear at least one surgical mask or stronger in the hopes of reducing the spread of the omicron variant.
“The last thing we want to do is create a situation where visitors come in and now make people they love – or their neighbors in the next room – sick from the pandemic,” Hochul said.