New York healthcare workers will be required to get the coronavirus vaccine by late September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, expanding the state’s vaccine mandate amid the surge of new coronavirus infections.
The state health department will order hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes to enforce the mandate with “limited exceptions” allowed for medical and religious exemptions.
Healthcare workers must have received their first vaccine dose by Sept. 27, according to the order.In a statement, Cuomo—who will step down next week over a sexual harassment scandal—said the private sector “will not enforce a vaccine mandate unless it’s the law,” adding that he’s already “strongly urged” businesses to require vaccines.
Most of the state’s healthcare workers have already had the vaccine, according to the governor’s office: 75% of the state’s hospital workers, 74% of adult care facility employees and 68% of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated.
The new policy is an expansion of an earlier order from Cuomo last month that required patient-facing employees at state-run hospitals to be vaccinated, along with other New York state workers.
New York’s vaccination push comes as coronavirus cases are spiking in the state once again, with new daily infections having jumped by 1,000% over the past six weeks, Cuomo said in a statement, with more than 80% of those positives linked to the delta variant.
California was the first state to mandate vaccines for healthcare employees, requiring jabs for workers in both private and public hospitals. Since then, other states to announce some form of vaccine mandate for healthcare workers include New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, North Carolina, Delaware, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Maine. Large healthcare systems are following suit, like the Department of Veterans Affairs which treats more than 9 million people annually, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The orders may open the states up to legal action. Last week, 1,200 first responders in Hawaii announced they would sue Gov. David Ige (D) over his orders that all state and county employees be either vaccinated against coronavirus or take weekly tests. Hundreds of healthcare workers held demonstrations in cities across Maine over the weekend to protest Gov. Janet T. Mills (D), who ordered all employees in state-licensed healthcare facilities be vaccinated.