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NYC workers' vaccination rate rises as mandate looms

Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for

Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers eliminates a testing option. Credit: Mayoral Photography Office / Ed Reed via TNS

The COVID-19 vaccination rate among New York City employees rose to 91% by Sunday evening as more workers complied with Mayor Bill de Blasio's Monday deadline.

But nearly 23,000 others — including cops and firefighters — had not gotten the shot and could be placed on unpaid leave on Monday, while officials with the FDNY and NYPD said their departments are prepared to cope with any labor shortages.

The total number of vaccinated workers has risen significantly since Oct. 19, the day before de Blasio instituted the mandate without a testing option.

On Oct. 19, 84% of city workers were vaccinated, according to figures released by the mayor's office. Among the 91% of the workforce that received the shot as of Saturday evening, some agencies continue to lag, including the FDNY, the NYPD and the Sanitation Department.

"NYC employees are stepping up to keep themselves, their communities and their city safe from #COVID-19. 29 city agencies have vaccination rates of 90% or more and we’re seeing dramatic vaccination increases across uniformed agencies," de Blasio said via his Twitter account late Saturday. "This is how we move forward together."

Workers who fail to submit proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination may be put on unpaid leave as early as Monday morning.

The leaders of FDNY, NYPD and Sanitation unions have warned that New York will face labor shortages and dire consequences, including shuttered firehouses, delayed response times and mountains of trash if the city enforces the mandate and places unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave.

FDNY firefighters and other city employees who participated in protests against the mandate last week said the decision to get vaccinated should be made by individuals and not forced upon workers by the city.

The FDNY says 80% of firefighters have complied with the mandate, up from 58% on Tuesday. Eighty-seven percent of medics and EMTs are vaccinated.

More than 2,000 firefighters are out sick, according to the FDNY. Most of that group is unvaccinated.

Some companies may become temporarily out of service, FDNY officials said, adding they will be able to shift firefighters and EMTs where they are needed.

"We are continuing to manage the crisis and make the necessary adjustments with manpower and resources as necessary," FDNY spokesman James Long said.

Eighty-four percent of NYPD employees are vaccinated, according to the mayor’s office, up from 70% on Tuesday. Enforcement of the mandate will begin on Monday, except for employees who applied for an exemption, such as for medical or religious reasons, the department said.

The city has issued administrative bulletins to officers on where to obtain a COVID-19 shot and it expanded times and locations where members could get vaccinated through Sunday, the department said.

"We will be prepared for any changes in personnel due to the mandate," said Sgt. Edward Riley, a police spokesman.

Eight-two percent of Sanitation employees are vaccinated, up from 62% on Tuesday, according to the mayor’s office.

A CDC advisory panel, meanwhile, is expected to make a final decision on vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

The FDA last week approved Pfizer’s emergency use authorization request to include kids that age — at a smaller dose for those 12 and older.

Long Island saw a seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate of 2.11%, according to test results on Saturday, slightly below the 2.18% seven-day figure Nassau and Suffolk counties registered one week earlier.

There were 26 deaths statewide on Saturday, including one Suffolk resident and two people from Nassau.

Of the total population in Nassau, both those eligible for the vaccine and not, 73% have completed their vaccine sequence as of 11 a.m. on Sunday, according to state statistics. That number for the total Suffolk population is just over 66%.

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