New York City will require that police officers, firefighters, and other municipal workers be vaccinated against COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday. This gave an ultimatum for public employees who have refused to do so and ensured a fight with some unions representing them.
De Blasio announced that the mandate, which affects the nation’s largest police force and more than 100,000 Big Apple workers (including trash haulers and building inspectors), has a Nov. 1 deadline to receive the first dose of vaccine.
The mandate will apply to Rikers Island Jailers, which have been struggling with staffing shortages, creating unsafe conditions.
According to the city, 71% of those workers who are affected by the mandate have received at least one dose.
The city mandated vaccinations for teachers in public schools, and the state mandated vaccines to hospital workers.
The mayor announced that city workers who receive their first shot at a city-run vaccination station by Oct. 29 will be paid an additional $500. Workers who fail to show proof of vaccination before Oct. 29 are placed on leave.
“We have to end the COVID era. After announcing the policy, de Blasio spoke on MSNBC’s Morning Joe about how police officers, EMTs, firefighters, and all public employees are in close contact with New Yorkers. They need to feel safe. They need to be safe for their families, but it’s also important to remind all New Yorkers, if they work with public employees, that they are vaccinated. Everybody is going to be safe.
De Blasio was weighing the possibility of a mandate to instill vaccines for police, fire and other city agencies over several weeks.
The announcement was made amid a new uproar about NYPD officers refusing to wear face masks. Two police officers were caught on camera pushing a man out from a Manhattan subway station after he confronted them about their disregard for rules that required them to wear masks.
NYPD’s vaccination rates have been lower than the rest of the city. Some officers are refusing to receive the shots. Officers’ unions argued Wednesday that the mandate is personal medical decision and they would sue.
“From the beginning, the de Blasio administration’s haphazard vaccination rollout, we have fought for the vaccine to be available to all members who choose it, while also protecting their rights to make that decision in consultation with their doctor,” Pat Lynch (president of the Police Benevolent Association), stated in a statement that “Now that the City has unilaterally imposed a mandate, we will take legal action to protect the rights of our members.”
Paul DiGiacomo is the President of the Detectives’ Endowment Association. He stated: “Our union will fight as hard as it did to ensure our members could get the vaccine, as we will to make sure they are not mandated to.” Our top priority is to protect the rights of all detectives.
The NYPD employs 69% of its workforce who are vaccinated. This compares to 77.4% of New Yorkers who have been fully immunized. There are approximately 34,500 uniformed officers and 17.700 non-uniformed personnel in support positions.
Over 60 NYPD personnel have been killed by COVID-19. This includes five patrol officers and eight detectives, as well as the former chief for transportation. 16 firefighters were killed by the virus in the fire department. The paramedics and EMTs of the fire department worked around the clock during the initial days of the pandemic.
Both Dermot Shea, police commissioner, and Daniel Nigro, fire commissioner, have stated that they support a mandate for vaccines. Shea told reporters earlier this month that, given the “emergency situations that we’re currently in,” it made sense. Nigro also said that he believes it was time at a memorial service for firefighters.
New York City has a mandate to enforce vaccine requirements.
Six police officers and eleven firefighters in Seattle are set to be fired after Monday’s city vaccine mandate. Other 93 Seattle firefighters and 66 officers were also dismissed Tuesday as they sought religious or medical exemptions.
A police union in Massachusetts has reported that at least 150 state troopers have resigned over the state’s mandate. As of Tuesday, Washington State had 127 state troopers fired for not complying with a vaccine mandate. Another 32 were either laid off or retired, rather than being vaccinated.
Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused the president the Chicago police union of trying “induce an revolution” by encouraging officers not to comply with the requirement. This accusation was made even though the former president of the union died from COVID-19. Now, the dispute is in court.
An executive order by de Blasio was signed last month. NYPD officers must be either vaccinated, or have proof that they have passed a COVID-19 test.
The state mandates vaccines for health workers. New York City residents must present proof of vaccination in order to eat indoors in restaurants, or attend sporting events.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets’ most prominent basketball player, was banned from practicing or playing because he refused to receive the vaccine. The team had to ban the seven-time All Star basketball player because he refused to get the vaccine.
De Blasio’s position regarding vaccine mandates has changed.
He allowed teachers in public schools to receive the vaccine, or submit regular negative COVID-19 test results. But he made it more strict this summer and required all teachers to have the vaccine without any exceptions.
Officials from the city said that thousands of teachers and other school workers received the vaccine within days.
The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to teacher vaccination mandate earlier this month. This suggests a legal path for expanding requirement to other cities.