Many healthcare workers in New York have rushed for COVID-19 vaccine jabs during the last hours before the harsh vaccine mandate takes effect.
It was estimated that the figure could be in the thousands, raising the number of those receiving at least one dose across the Big Apple to 92% on Monday night, according to The New York Times.
The mandate, as well as its penalties, was set to be implemented by midnight on Monday. Those who remain unvaccinated without any special exemption granted are expected to lose their jobs.
With the last-minute workers accepting the jabs, the anticipated staff shortage crisis in the healthcare system has become much less likely.
More than 8,000 personnel in the New York City public hospital system were unvaccinated a week ago. However, by Monday morning, the number had fallen to 5,000, or a little over 10% of the workforce.
On Monday, the rate for nursing facilities soared to 92%, up from 84% five days prior. Many nursing homes were already experiencing severe staffing shortages ahead of the deadline, making any further staff cutbacks potentially risky. This latest growth has reduced such stress.
During the same day, the new governor of the Big Apple, Ms. Kathy Hochul (D), already showed no softening in her resolution to enforce the mandate, even with the prospect of abruptly losing a number of medical workers to the mandate.
“We are still in a battle against COVID to protect our loved ones, and we need to fight with every tool at our disposal,” Hochul said, urging the vaccine holdouts to change their minds quickly before the midnight deadline.
She refused to let the potential shortage crisis be a fatal blow to the mandate, reminding that the state can just resort to medically trained National Guard troops and out-of-state staffers to fill in the gap left behind by the non-vaccinated.
“My desire is to have to people who have been out there continue to work in their jobs, work in them safely,” she said. “And to all of the other healthcare workers who are vaccinated, they also deserve to know that the people they’re working with will not get them sick.”
Following the mandate’s enforcement, workers who have not at least received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will not be able to continue going to work. Neither will they be able to claim any unemployment benefits if they are fired from their jobs.
The role of the healthcare system has become much more critical with the lethal pandemic in place.
Although the state has seen more people accepting the jabs, it still has around under 10% of its medical workers unvaccinated.
Throughout Monday, protesters have marched the streets demanding their freedom of choice over COVID-19 vaccines.
The most common reason people rejected the jabs was due to a lack of trust in their safety. Severe side effects, injuries, and even deaths caused by the shots have been reported but remained a rare possibility.
Still, even at a low rate, the presence of such instances suffice for some people to boycott the vaccines.
Federal agencies have touted the benefits offered from the shots outweigh the risks, noting that they can keep the virus from causing acute illnesses in patients and reduce the chance of death.