NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that all health care workers in New York State, including staff at hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday, September 27, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons.
To date, 75% of the state's 450,000 hospital workers, 74% of the state's 30,000 adult care facility workers, and 68% of the state's 145,500 nursing home workers have completed their vaccine series.
Cuomo said Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul's administration was briefed prior to the announcement.
"When COVID ambushed New York last year, New Yorkers acted, while the Federal Government denied the problem," Cuomo said. "Now, the delta variant is spreading across the nation and across New York -- new daily positives are up over 1000% over the last six weeks, and over 80% of recent positives in New York State are linked to the delta variant. We must now act again to stop the spread. Our healthcare heroes led the battle against the virus, and now we need them to lead the battle between the variant and the vaccine."
Cuomo also announced that the Department of Health has authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for New Yorkers with compromised immune systems, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation last week.
Eligible New Yorkers can receive their third dose 28 days after the completion of their two-dose vaccine series, effective immediately.
The CDC is currently recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose, including people who have:
--Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood;
--Received an organ transplant and are taking medications to suppress the immune system;
--Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system;
--Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome);
--Advanced or untreated HIV infection;
--Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, cancer chemotherapy that causes sever immunosuppression, or other medications that may suppress your immune response.
New Yorkers should contact their health care provider about whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them at this time.
"While we have made tremendous progress in getting New Yorkers vaccinated, this pandemic is far from over and more must be done," New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. "The data and science tell us that getting more people vaccinated as quickly as possible is the best way to keep people safe, prevent further mutations, and enable us to resume our daily routines. This mandate will both help close the vaccination gap and reduce the spread of the delta variant."
The New York State Nurses Association issued a statement in response to the mandate:
"With the sharp increase in primarily unvaccinated patients entering hospitals around the state, we understand more must be done to keep our communities safe. In conjunction with the vaccine mandate, the Department of Health (DOH) must declare COVID-19 a public health emergency and implement the HERO Act to reduce the strain on healthcare.
In addition to protecting New Yorkers through vaccination, more must be done to prepare our hospitals for another COVID surge. The DOH must take a stronger role in ensuring healthcare facilities meet health and safety protocols that fully recognize airborne transmission, and are safely staffed with enough frontline healthcare workers, especially ICU nurses. They must also ensure hospitals have adequate and accessible Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies. They should no longer be in a conservation mindset when it comes to PPE.
"Overall, we are seeing a crisis in hospital emergency departments that indicates a general lack of preparedness. The DOH should listen to the frontline this time not just hospital CEO's. Our healthcare workers are exhausted and traumatized. Their voices should be heard - not denied or characterized as vectors of infection- which is exactly what we are trying to avoid. When healthcare workers document what they are experiencing they must be believed. Hospitals must also ensure that new mandates do not contribute to already problematic staffing shortages. We do not want a situation where patient care is compromised because the pool of nurses and other healthcare workers continues to shrink.
"It is our hope that by the time this mandate is in effect, that the vaccines have gained full FDA approval."
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