Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Wednesday that health professionals in New York City would be forced to obtain COVID-19 vaccines or undergo weekly testing.
“The delta version is causing more and more problems, and we have to fight back,” added de Blasio. “We need a solid, unambiguous strategy that ensures that every single one of our employees is vaccinated or tested on a weekly basis.”
All staff at city-run hospitals and clinical personnel for the health department will be subject to the new restrictions, which will take effect on Aug. 2. In the coming weeks, the city intends to apply the new regulations to more health department employees. Employees will have to provide proof of immunization or a negative test result in order to work.
The mayor emphasized that the new restrictions are an extra step in keeping the city safe and that they would not detract from grassroots efforts to boost immunization rates among the general public, such as mobile sites and at-home vaccines. Employees have the choice of getting tested each week, so the new regulation isn’t strictly a vaccination obligation.
“Every single one of those employees has a choice,” de Blasio continued, emphasizing that the vaccine option was the better of the two. “It’s about keeping people safe and preventing the delta variation,” says the narrator.
The general population of New York City has slightly higher vaccination rates than the national average. According to data from the city health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58 percent of New York City residents had received at least one dose and 54 percent were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, compared to 56 percent of all Americans who had received at least one shot and 49 percent who were fully vaccinated.
According to the state health department, hospital personnel are vaccinated at a greater rate than the general population, however, the percentage of completely immunized New York City hospital workers (70 percent) is somewhat lower than the statewide average (74 percent).