Workers rally against New York-Presbyterian's COVID vaccine mandate for staff

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Protesters held a rally outside New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday to fight a vaccine mandate that requires workers to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.

Back in June, New York-Presbyterian, one of the biggest hospital groups in the country, became the first hospital system in the state to mandate vaccinations for staff, requiring its 48,000 employees to get at least one shot by Wednesday.

That deadline has since been pushed back to Sept. 15 for everyone except its managers, who are still required to have at least one dose of the vaccine by Wednesday.

Former Gov. Cuomo declared last month that all health care workers in the state, including those at hospitals and long-term care facilities, would have to get a first shot by Sept. 27.

"When you felt like you were a voice in the dark by yourself, people may have caved and done something against their will, now they're not, now they're standing tall and going all the way to termination if needed," hospital worker John Matland said.

Workers are allowed to present a valid exemption note, namely for medical, pregnancy, or religious reasons, for which they must apply.

The mandate is in addition to existing vaccination requirements against influenza, measles, rubella, and varicella. Any exemptions had to be applied for by August 1.

Sirena Richardson has lupus and said she was still denied three times. She isn't sure what her plan B looks like.

"I have three kids, one in college, one in high school, one in junior high and at this point, I'm helpless trying to reach out for some legal advice see what I can do because I'm hitting walls," Richardson said.

In July, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City health care workers will have a choice to either be vaccinated or test weekly.

New York-Presbyterian, however, is a private company that is allowed to make its own rules.

The hospital released the following statement:

"September 15th is the deadline for the majority of our NYP team members to receive the first dose of the vaccine or have an approved exemption. For Supervisors only, the deadline is today, September 1st. We will continue to provide our employees with information, support and the resources they may need to meet the vaccination requirement - as always, the health and safety of all our patients, team members and community come first."

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