NYC Vaccine Mandate Goes Into Effect, Putting Thousands of Municipal Employees Out of Work

New York traffic, USA.
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Thousands of New York City employees who refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine faced termination Monday morning after the city imposed a vaccine mandate and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to block it.

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As of Friday, NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ administration was set to fire at lest 3,000 municipal workers for refusing to get vaccinated, The New York Times reported. The weekend brought no reported change to the mandate or its legality.

Other media outlets said the number of fired workers could reach as high as 4,000 if certain employees refuse to get a second vaccination. That’s still a tiny percentage of the overall municipal payroll — which numbers around 370,000 employees — but even 3,000 fired workers would represent one of the country’s most sweeping examples of a work force reduction tied to a vaccine requirement.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an emergency request to consider an appeal by a group of New York City schoolteachers who want to block the mandate on the grounds that it is a discriminatory religious exemption policy.

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That decision was issued by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees cases in the Second Circuit, which includes New York, Connecticut and Vermont. In October, Sotomayer dismissed a challenge to a city vaccine mandate that went into effect for public teachers.

New York City’s vaccine mandate was initially put in place by former mayor Bill de Blasio. Since then, about 95% of the 370,000 municipal workers have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, up from 84% when the mandate was announced in October.

Adams, who was elected mayor in November, has kept the mandate in place. He reaffirmed that stance at a news conference last week, saying that people “must be vaccinated” if they are to remain New York City employees.

“We are not firing them,” Adams added. “People are quitting. The responsibility is clear.”

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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