With the New York City vaccine mandate taking effect today thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, government employees, including police officers, sanitation workers, and firefighters were mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. While the workers had until Friday to get the vaccine and claim their $500 cash bonus, more than 26,000 workers didn’t comply with the order. As the mandate states, unvaccinated city workers will be sent home without pay if they refuse to comply, leading some to worry about shortages of first responders and city services.
The latest figures coming from the state show that 89% of city workers have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. With 19,000 workers inoculated since the vaccine announcement on October 20th, New York City has amassed a public workforce of close to 400,000 people.
Trying not to focus on the problem, De Blasio tweeted, praising the vaccinated workers, saying, “they won’t stop until the job’s done.”
According to an email received by WNYC/Gothamist, “As early as this weekend, you may see firehouses closed due to workforce shortages. “This will result in longer response times for fires and medical emergencies. Residents in Inwood may need to wait for companies in the Bronx to show up. I know Engine 95 and ladder 36 is short-staffed this weekend with the possibility of closing. These closings could be fatal!”
While no fire department in New York has closed, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said 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. Despite these actions by some, the Department will continue to respond to all calls for help that come our way.”