The governor of New York State signed an executive order expanding the availability of health care workers on the eve of a mandatory vaccine deadline for all state workers.
The deadline for workers to be vaccinated was midnight Monday. The state is reporting that 92% of health care workers, including nursing home staff, have received at least one dose of the vaccine but the rate is uneven: larger hospitals are seeing vaccine rates up to 99%, while the vaccine rate lags at smaller hospitals.
The mandate is mostly without exceptions. Health care workers face unpaid leave if they refuse the vaccine but can return if they get the shot.
The order on Monday by Governor Kathy Hochul allows retired health care workers to head back into service, even if their medical licenses have expired. She is also considering expanding visa applications for those out of the country who can serve as medical professionals and possibly relying on medical professionals in the National Guard, which jumps into service during state and national emergencies.
New York is also setting up a command center that can direct health care workers to different hospitals where the vaccine mandate might create a larger loss of workers.
The state vaccine mandate also applies to school teachers and the court system and could serve as a basis for vaccine mandates in other states.
Opponents argue that getting the vaccine should remain an individual choice. But proponents point out that workers have taken an oath to protect their patients' health above all else and health care workers are already required to have vaccinations for other diseases.
"I'm sick and tired of talking about COVID," Hochul said in an interview on Monday as she urged remaining unvaccinated workers to "please do the right thing," by getting vaccinated.
Source: Anadolu Agency