Updated: August 16, 2021 04:35 PM
Created: August 16, 2021 11:53 AM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The COVID-19 vaccine will now be mandatory for all healthcare workers in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
The mandate includes staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care, and other areas. Staff will have to be vaccinated by Sept. 27.
The move expands on a previous mandate specifically for state-run hospitals, as Cuomo said he did not have the ability to mandate the vaccine at non-state-run outlets without the vaccine's getting full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. As for state-specific workers, Cuomo said he was on "legal grounds."
Locally, multiple area healthcare systems and hospitals announced workers would have to be vaccinated by Sept. 8, or face weekly testing. The state mandate does not allow the weekly testing option, though exemptions are being made for people with religious or medical reasons.
"Rochester Regional Health will comply with the vaccine mandate Gov. Cuomo announced today," the health system's spokesperson said in a statement. "We will be working on the implementation of this mandate as we learn more about it in the coming days. Currently, 75% of RRH employees are vaccinated."
"We have received the news release from the Governor’s office, and are awaiting further instruction from NYS Department Health to understand the details of the requirement, and the impact this may have on our operations," A spokesperson for URMC said in a statement. "As of today, 86% of our health care workers are confirmed or reported as vaccinated."
Previously, @NYGovCuomo had said he didn’t think NYS had the legal authority to mandate the vaccine until it was fully approved by the @US_FDA but had been encouraging employers to mandate it. @news10nbc https://t.co/gQLMom4zNv— Jennifer Lewke (@WHEC_JLewke) August 16, 2021
The state says 75% of the state's 450,000 hospital workers, 74% of the state's 30,000 adult care facility workers, and 68% of the state's 145,500 nursing home workers have completed their vaccine series
Cuomo again urged private businesses to mandate the vaccine for their employees. His office says incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration was briefed before the announcement.
Cuomo's office says the mandate came by the way of a Section 16 order.
Within the same announcement, Cuomo said the state's Department of Health gave the okay for a third vaccine dose for people with compromised immune systems. Eligible New Yorkers can get their third dose 28 days after the completion of their two-dose series, effective immediately. This follows a recommendation from the CDC.
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) issued the following statement Monday:
“With the sharp increase in primarily unvaccinated patients entering hospitals around the state, we understand more must be done to keep our communities safe. In conjunction with the vaccine mandate, the Department of Health (DOH) must declare COVID-19 a public health emergency and implement the HERO Act to reduce the strain on healthcare. In addition to protecting New Yorkers through vaccination, more must be done to prepare our hospitals for another COVID surge. The DOH must take a stronger role in ensuring healthcare facilities meet health and safety protocols that fully recognize airborne transmission, and are safely staffed with enough frontline healthcare workers, especially ICU nurses. They must also ensure hospitals have adequate and accessible Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies. They should no longer be in a conservation mindset when it comes to PPE.
“Overall, we are seeing a crisis in hospital emergency departments that indicates a general lack of preparedness. The DOH should listen to the frontline this time not just hospital CEO's. Our healthcare workers are exhausted and traumatized. Their voices should be heard - not denied or characterized as vectors of infection- which is exactly what we are trying to avoid. When healthcare workers document what they are experiencing they must be believed. Hospitals must also ensure that new mandates do not contribute to already problematic staffing shortages. We do not want a situation where patient care is compromised because the pool of nurses and other healthcare workers continues to shrink.
“It is our hope that by the time this mandate is in effect, that the vaccines have gained full FDA approval.”
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