New York hospitals have begun suspending and even firing employees who have not yet received the first shot against Covid-19. The health staff had been given until September 27 to do so by the state. Due to staff shortages, certain interventions will have to be postponed.
The New York State Department of Health ordered all health professionals last month to receive at least an initial vaccine against the coronavirus. Hospitals rushed to have their staff vaccinated, but thousands of workers refused.
For example, about 5,000 of the 43,000 staff at the state’s 11 public hospitals have not yet received a vaccine. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Saturday that 16 percent of all hospital workers are not yet fully vaccinated.
Catholic Health, one of the largest hospital networks in western New York, confirmed that some employees have been suspended without pay. A small number of non-urgent interventions were postponed. At the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, those procedures were even suspended and patients from other hospitals are no longer admitted to intensive care. The hospital says it is preparing to lay off hundreds of unvaccinated employees.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s hospitals have yet to see a major impact. De Blasio is more concerned about other areas in the state, where vaccination rates are lower. Governor Hochul considers deploying the National Guard and bringing in health workers from other states to combat shortages.
Hospital employees who are fired for refusing the corona vaccine are not eligible for unemployment compensation unless they can present a medical certificate. An Albany court previously ruled that health workers can also be exempted for religious reasons.