Ninety-one percent of New York City municipal employees have complied with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, with about 2,300 getting their first dose on Saturday, city officials said.
Nearly all city workers, including police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, had until 5 p.m. Friday to get at least one dose of the vaccine or be placed on unpaid leave, starting Monday. While the official deadline was Friday, those who got vaccinated over the weekend will not be placed on leave.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city anticipated that many unvaccinated employees would do so closer to the deadline, and city agencies were making final pushes to drive up those numbers.
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On Thursday, more than 1,000 NYPD members got their first shot, Commissioner Dermot Shea said, and by Friday morning, 80% of the department was vaccinated. Nearly 1,000 additional members got their first dose on Friday, pushing the rate up to 84%, the department said.
Shea said on 1010 WINS radio earlier Friday he believes that the department will be in “good shape for Monday morning,” but will move resources to ensure appropriate coverage.
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Prior contingency plans are “being actually scaled-down” as NYPD officials watch vaccination rates rise, with Shea telling Channel 5 on Friday they’re now more concerned about filling “individual shifts” than staffing precincts on Monday.
“We will move resources around. We have had significant increase in people getting vaccinated in the past three days, and that’s the good news,” Shea told Channel 5. “The contingencies are there. New Yorkers should not, should not, be worried about this.”
Michael M. Santiago/Getty ImagesNYPD cruisers are seen parked at the 84th Precinct on Oct. 29, 2021, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Elsewhere, as of Friday night, 77% of FDNY members were vaccinated, including 72% of firefighters, 84% of EMS workers and 90% of civilian workers.
The day before the deadline, the city’s firefighters’ unions organized an anti-vaccine mandate rally, filling the entire block in front of Gracie Mansion, home to de Blasio. Union leaders have argued that members have not had enough time to decide on the vaccine mandate. It was announced Oct. 20.
On Friday, four uniformed firefighters from a Brooklyn station were suspended after they reportedly went to a state senator’s office to protest the mandate. At one point, they told a staff member the “city would have blood on its hands,” a person familiar with the conversation told ABC News.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro called the visit “highly inappropriate.”
“This is a highly inappropriate act by on-duty members of this Department who should only be concerned with responding to emergencies and helping New Yorkers and not harassing an elected official and his staff,” Nigro said in a statement to ABC News. “The members in question have been immediately relieved of duty and will face disciplinary action.”
By Friday night, department officials suspected a job action was underway at several fire stations in response to the mandate.
“The excessive sick leave by a group of our Firefighters because of their anger at the vaccine mandate for all city employees is unacceptable, contrary to their oaths to serve, and may endanger the lives of New Yorkers,” Nigro said in a statement to ABC News. “Despite these actions by some, the Department will continue to respond to all calls for help that come our way.”
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro told reporters Friday he had “no knowledge of a job action whatsoever,” and suggested that some members may be out sick due to COVID-19 side effects.
James Estrin/The New York Times via ReduxNew York Fire Department employees and others protest outside Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor, in New York on Oct. 28, 2021, to protest the mandate almost every municipal worker be vaccinated against COVID-19.
De Blasio has stood by the deadline, saying at a press briefing Thursday, “If we don’t stop COVID, New Yorkers will die. We must, must stop COVID and the way to do that is vaccination. And that must include our public employees.”
As of 8 p.m. Friday, 83% of the city’s workforce affected by Friday’s deadline have gotten at least one shot, with 26,600 employees still unvaccinated, according to city data. Nearly 90% of the city’s 300,000-plus workforce is vaccinated, including school and hospital employees who faced earlier deadlines.
Twenty-nine agencies have vaccination rates of at least 90%, the city said.
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Those who don’t comply with the mandate will be placed on unpaid leave and their future employment will be resolved in negotiations with individual labor unions.
Uniformed correction officers have until Dec. 1 to show proof of vaccination.