The vaccine mandate imposed on New York City’s municipal employees by Mayor Bill de Blasio required complete vaccinations by 5 p.m. on Friday. The mandate demands vaccination as a condition of employment.
As late as last Wednesday, the New York City Fire Department said that only 65% of its workforce had been vaccinated. The department estimated at the time that as many as 20% of fire companies and ambulances would have to be taken out of service as a result. The city’s police and sanitation departments are also expected to suffer severe shortages.
Despite a last-minute drive for employee compliance by the city government last week, reports estimated that as many as 26,000 employees remained unvaccinated on Saturday. That number would indicate that only around 83% of city employees have received the shots before the Mayor’s Friday deadline for compliance.
The police department announced that 16% of the force is unvaccinated. The fire department said that 28% missed the deadline. Violent crime in the city remains at levels significantly higher than before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
City government officials attempted to downplay the staffing crisis, with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea saying that the city will “move resources around,” and the “contingencies are there.” He added that New Yorkers “should not be worried about this.”
In addition to low vaccination numbers, the fire department was concerned about a “sick out” on Friday by union members wishing to express their displeasure with the mandate. Chief Daniel Nigro said that the call-out by firemen was “unacceptable” and “contrary to their oaths.” Union representative Andrew Ansbro said that there was no “sick-out.” Still, it was likely that many firefighters were experiencing side effects from their last-minute vaccination shots needed for compliance with the mandate.
The city has moved forward with placing non-compliant employees on unpaid administrative leave after the Friday deadline.