No COVID Booster Mandate for New York’s Health Care Workers

Concerns over possible staffing issues made New York state officials to announce on Friday that they would not enforce the state’s COVID-19 vaccine booster mandate for health care workers.

The mandate, which was set to go into effect on Monday, was imposed last month by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul who pointed to the troubling rise in breakthrough infections that the state is facing when announcing that the state would require all health care workers to get a COVID-19 booster.

Although the booster vaccination progress among health care workers will be reassessed in three months to see if new steps needed to be employed, New York state officials acknowledged on Friday it could lead to staffing shortages.

State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement that, in order to avoid substantial staffing issues in the already overstressed healthcare system, not enough healthcare workers will be boosted although 75% of staff already received or are willing to receive the third shot.

Bassett stressed that both the vaccine and the booster are critical tools to keep safe both healthcare workers and their patients, announcing additional efforts to work closely with healthcare facilities, including directly providing boosters to health care settings.

Despite the fact that New York’s nursing homes and hospitals have vaccinated nearly all employees, health experts worry that booster rates are too low to protect against future surges, noting that health care employees still had to abide by the state’s original vaccine requirement.

According to The Associated Press analysis of the latest state Department of Health data released Wednesday, about 43% of roughly 146,000 nursing home staffers in New York were fully vaccinated with a booster shot, up from about 20% as of early January, when Hochul first announced the booster mandate.

According to state data, 54% of 514,000 hospital staff have received booster shots.

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