Mayor de Blasio announced Wednesday that all city workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 — but those who get their first shot by the Oct. 29 deadline will get a $500 bonus.
The mayor ordered all 160,000 municipal workers, including police and firefighters, to get vaccinated or face being placed on unpaid leave.
“My job is to keep New Yorkers safe, and the vaccine is what does it,” de Blasio said during an appearance Wednesday morning on CNN. “There’s still a lot of city employees who are not vaccinated. I want to protect them. I want to protect their families. I want to protect all the people they come in contact with in this city.”
Previously, city workers could remain unvaccinated if they submitted to regular COVID testing. The new policy eliminates that option.
An estimated 46,000 city workers, or 29% of the total, have refused to get the lifesaving vaccine.
“That’s a lot of people,” de Blasio said.
Vaccination requirements in other cities have sparked howls of opposition from police unions and some other public safety workers.
Police Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said the union would fight for cops to remain unvaccinated if they so choose.
“From the beginning of the de Blasio administration’s haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor,” Lynch said Wednesday. “Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members’ rights.”
A court challenge — and cops refusing to get the vaccine — could potentially lead to less cops on the street, but de Blasio said he’s not too worried about that prospect, in part due to the city’s success with its vaccine mandate for teachers and school workers and the $500 financial incentive currently being offered.
“We’re saying, ‘Get vaccinated, stay on the force, help us, help lead us out of the COVID era,” he said. “If they choose not to, they go on unpaid leave [and] they have a chance to correct.”
City teachers and other school workers were already required to be vaccinated to protect children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. They were not offered a $500 incentive as part of that mandate.
Although the teachers union also initially criticized the mandate, more than 95% of school workers have now received the jab.
De Blasio has so far resisted requiring that all eligible public school students be vaccinated, saying kids shouldn’t be kept out of school if their parents don’t want them to take the vaccine.