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New York hospitals fear staff shortages as vaccine mandate deadline takes effect Monday

Some hospitals and elder care facilities are preparing for the worst as large swaths of medical personnel and staff may fail to be vaccinated by Monday

Updated: September 24, 2021 - 8:50am

Hospitals and longterm care facilities in New York are preparing for the possibility that the statewide coronavirus vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, which goes into effect Monday, could lead to staff shortages.

Medical professionals, and support staff including food service employees and cleaning crew staff, have until the September 27 to receive their first COVID-19 jab. With mere days left until that deadline, many workers still had not received a shot, leaving open the possibility of thousands of health care workers losing their jobs next week.

Some hospitals have prepared back-up plans, should Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul opt not to rescind the order. The contingency plans include scaling back elective surgeries, and at one upstate New York hospital, shutting down the maternity ward. Some nursing homes have also opted to limit admissions. 

"Every single person who is in your care has the right to know that there is no chance they will be infected by the person in charge of protecting them and their health," Hochul said Thursday, indicating that she will stand firmly by the mandate. 

Hospital systems have thousands of volunteers and retirees standing by to pick up some of the slack Monday. 

Also starting Monday, New York City will require public school teachers to get vaccinated, another deadline that has raised some concerns that it could lead to the possible suspension of thousands of teachers and school staffers come Monday. 

The president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, on Thursday requested a delay for the mandate.

"Our schools are not ready," he said.

Teachers' unions have been some of the most vociferous advocates of coronavirus safety standards when it comes to returning to the classroom. But vaccine mandates have caused a ruffle in the narrative, which has successfully delayed the reopening of thousands of schools across the country for the last year, as it becomes clear that there will be holdouts.

"We have thousands and thousands of vaccinated experienced substitute teachers ready to go," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, also indicating that he would not be backing away from the mandate. 

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