Many healthcare workers who got booster ahead of deadline frustrated by last-minute change

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Health care workers will not have to get their COVID boosters by Monday or lose their jobs after all.

On Friday the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) announced it’s holding off on its booster mandate deadline.

Some workers had waited right until the last minute to get a booster but ultimately not enough of them have rolled up their sleeves.

“We all put it off till the very last minute because we didn’t want to get the vaccine,” exclaimed Randi Scholes, who works at a Batavia nursing home and a Medina dialysis center, decided she’d had enough.

After getting sick from her first two Moderna vaccines, she didn’t want a booster, even as the pressure picked up ahead of the state’s Monday deadline, for health care workers to get that third shot, and she’d seen what happened when previous vax deadlines hit last year.

“There is the deadline and, all of a sudden, this person doesn’t show up for work,” she recalled. “They’re not working here anymore. We all knew it’s because they didn’t get their vaccine.”

But the NYSDOH now says it will not enforce the mandate for health care workers for now and those not yet boostered can go back to work on Monday.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has been warning keeping unboostered workers off the job might make a manpower crisis worse.

And in her announcement, Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said “the reality is that not enough healthcare workers will be boosted by next week’s requirement in order to avoid substantial staffing issues in our already overstressed healthcare system.”

Too late for Randi Scholes.

“I went and got the vaccine today,” Scholes said. “Went back to work, two hours later, we got a message from work saying there is no longer a vaccine mandate. So that does not make me very happy.“

The news is a relief at Rochester health facilities.

In a statement, UR Medicine said it’ll keep encouraging its people to get boosters but that "This decision gives us flexibility to continue to meet our patients’ needs without interruption.”

Randy Scholes says she’ll be back at work next week.

“I can’t even really wrap my head around it. It’s just very disturbing to me right now,” she said.

The state says this booster reprieve will last at least three months.