NYC Teachers Vaccination Rate Climbs As City Deadline Approaches Friday

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New York City's school employees had until 5 p.m. Friday, October 1, to get at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, unless the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a lawsuit over the inoculation mandate.

Unvaccinated school staff would not be permitted to work and could face suspension without pay under the city mandate if it went into effect.

Regardless of what happens with the legal battle, Mayor Bill de Blasio says the already high vaccination rate among Department of Education employees has steadily increased since a three-judge appellate court panel ruled in favor of the city on Monday.

On Friday morning, de Blasio reported that 90 percent of Department of Education employees in the city had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, including 93 percent of teachers and 98 percent of principals.

The vaccination rate among teachers increased 3 percent since Monday, which had been the previous deadline before a court order prompted the city to move it to today.

The anti-mandate group of Department of Education employees asked the U.S. Supreme Court for another injunction Friday. They claim the mandate would force thousands of public school employees out of work if it remains in place.

Lawyers for the group say the vaccine mandate violates teachers' fundamental right to pursue their occupation.

Lawyers for the city argue that similar vaccine mandates have held up in U.S. courts for nearly a century. They say that public school employees' decision to remain unvaccinated "is dwarfed by the public’s interest in safely resuming full school operations for a million public school students..."

Mayor de Blasio has expressed certainty that the city will not face staffing shortages due to the mandate.

On Monday a statewide vaccination mandate for healthcare workers went into effect, although a federal judge temporarily blocked employers from enforcing the mandate on people who have applied for religious exemptions. Only a small portion of unvaccinated healthcare workers had applied for such an exemption, however. Many state hospitals reported terminating or suspending some employees for noncompliance this week.

A spokesperson for Northwell Health on Long Island said Monday that it is the healthcare industry's "unique responsibility to protect the health of our patients and each other."

Gov. Hochul's executive order mandating the vaccination for healthcare workers also prevents healthcare workers from getting unemployment benefits if they are terminated for noncompliance.

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