No vax, no job: New York expects health care worker shortages

Northeast

Monday is the deadline for health care workers to get their first COVID-19 vaccine shot in New York. From doctors and nurses to janitors and support staff, the state is laying down the law: Get vaccinated or be unemployed. 

“I have never tested positive,” said one health care worker at a news conference on Monday. “I have a god-given immune system.”

With time ticking down on the health care mandate, the state is now preparing for a critical shortage of workers in hospitals and nursing homes. 

“We’re taking all the steps, preemptively, in anticipation of what I call a preventable staffing shortage,” said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. 

Hochul plans to sign a state of emergency order that would allow health care workers from other states, recent medical graduates and retirees along with medically certified members of the National Guard, to lend a hand in New York.

United University Professions President Fred Kowal says he is concerned about the possible shortage.

“What we are looking at is potentially hundreds and hundreds of hospital workers and support staff not being at their work stations starting tomorrow,” he said.

About 84% of hospital employees in New York are fully vaccinated, according to state data. But only 77% of nursing homes are fully vaccinated as tens of thousands are still holding out.

Bronx hospital worker Nancy Figueroa used to be one of them.

“Then I said you know what? I’m gonna do it. For my family, for my dad,” she said.

Hospitals are still appealing, right down to the wire, for workers to get the shot.

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