COVID Vax to be Optional for City Workers

COVID Vax to be Optional for City Workers

Photo Courtesy of Caroline Willis/Mayoral Photography Office

“[T]his is the right moment for this decision,” Mayor Adams said.

By Forum Staff

Mayor Eric Adams on Monday announced that — with more than 96 percent of City workers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — the City will make vaccination optional for current and prospective city workers effective Friday, Feb. 10, following the expected ratification at the next Board of Health meeting.

With the vast majority of City workers and New Yorkers vaccinated, and more tools readily available to protect people from serious illness, the vaccine requirement for the primary series of shots has served its purpose, driving rates of vaccination up among the city’s workforce during a critical period in the pandemic, Adams noted.

Beginning Feb. 10, the City will make the COVID-19 vaccination requirement optional for City employees, in addition to City Department of Education (DOE) employees. At this point, the City has fully processed and issued decisions for all pending reasonable accommodation appeals. While the approximately 1,780 former employees terminated for failing to submit proof of vaccination will not be able to automatically return to their previous positions, they will be able to apply for positions with their former agencies through existing City rules and regulations and hiring processes. The City will also end the vaccination requirements for nonpublic school, early child care, and daycare staff.

As part of this change, beginning Feb. 10, visitors to Department of Education school buildings will no longer be required to provide proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This will allow students’ families and loved ones to attend school activities, celebrations, and events.

“City workers stepped up tremendously throughout the pandemic,” said Adams. “From our health care frontline workers and first responders who saved lives, to the City employees who kept our streets clean, our schools open, and our streets safe, we owe City workers a debt of gratitude for their service during New York City’s darkest days. With more than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary COVID-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision. I continue to urge every New Yorker to get vaccinated, get boosted, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19.”

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom added, “The city’s vaccine requirement is one such measure and has yielded significant results with 96 percent of city workers vaccinated with the primary series. More broadly, across the city, over 80 percent of New Yorkers have had their initial two shots. In this context, we can adjust our guidance but continue to strongly encourage every New Yorker to take the steps that we know help keep us and our loved ones safe and healthy — getting vaccinated, getting boosted, wearing a mask when appropriate, getting tested when appropriate, staying home if sick, and maintaining good hand hygiene.”

The City Council Common Sense Caucus praised the move.

“There is more to be done for those workers who were unjustly fired for making personal medical choices, but this is a tremendous step toward righting the wrongs of the previous administration’s misguided pandemic policies,” the group penned in a statement.


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