New York City's vaccine mandate deadline Friday caused a weekend surge in shots with some 91 percent of city employees at least partially vaccinated from COVID-19 as of Monday.
While Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded city workers for by and large doing their part to keep their communities safe from COVID, he acknowledged that a surge in callouts suggests some city employees are faking illness to avoid leave.
"People get really troubled really quick when people don't show up to do their job if they're not really sick, and we have every reason to believe there's a lot of people out there claiming to be sick when they're not," de Blasio said. "It's not acceptable."
The callouts are most pronounced within the FDNY, which has lagged behind other departments in vaccination rate. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said more than 2,300 firefighters called out sick on Monday.
That's more than double the usual number out sick. Most of the callouts are FDNY'ers who are unvaccinated, according to the commissioner.
"When people do this kind of thing there are consequences," de Blasio added. "This [vaccine mandate] decision was made for the health and welfare of all New Yorkers. It's time to recognize this is the law. Get back to protecting the people of New York City."
The five boroughs have braced for possible staffing shortage, but the mayor says there have been no service disruptions so far. Response times for fire, police and EMS were normal as of Monday afternoon.
Regarding rumors that some city firehouses had shutdown in protest, de Blasio mentioned that it is normal for up to 5 percent of firehouses to be temporarily out of service on any given day for maintenance or repair work. But as of Monday afternoon, however, no firehouses were closed.
De Blasio credited the smooth transition to effective planning and execution from agency heads, most of whom have publicly supported the vaccine mandate.
Out of the city's 378,000 employees, about 9,000 are on unpaid leave for noncompliance and another 12,000 have filed for exemptions.
De Blasio says those on leave can come back at anytime once they get their shot.
City employees who complied with the mandate received a $500 paycheck bonus as an incentive.