NEW YORK — New York City's vaccination mandate for city workers took effect Monday amid fierce resistance among a minority of workers in a few critical public safety jobs.
According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, 91% of the more than 400,000 municipal employees complied with the mandate and got at least one dose of a vaccine by Friday. However, about 9,000 workers were suspended without pay Monday when the order went into effect.
De Blasio said another 12,000 workers have applied for a medical or religious exemption. He said that those workers would have their answer on their application within a matter of days.
As of Sunday, 1 in 4 of the city's uniformed firefighters still hadn't gotten a first dose of the vaccine, as required. About 1 in 6 police officers were still unvaccinated.
It wasn't clear how many might have rushed to get a dose at the last minute over the weekend.
During a press conference on Monday, the president of New York's firefighters' union spoke out against the mandate.
"This is not the way to run a life-saving public service in such a haphazard way," Andrew Ansbro said. "The reason why we've felt compelled to be out in the press on a daily basis is because lives are at stake. And we feel we deserve at least as much time as corrections. It seems the needs of the correction system are overweighing the needs of New York City citizens right now. It's just absolutely unconscionable that this has been thrown together in a such a short time – absolutely unconscionable."
Despite potential labor shortages in key areas — including public safety — de Blasio touted the success of the mandate Monday, pointing to high vaccination rates in the city.
"Vaccine mandates work," he tweeted Monday. "91% of our City workforce has gotten vaccinated against #COVID19 and that number is still growing."