Labor Dept. reminds employers about paid time for vaccine recovery

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking about coronavirus vaccinations at a briefing in Long Island on Monday. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

NEW YORK — The state Labor Department issued guidelines to New York employers Thursday that all workers statewide are entitled to receive paid time off to recover from getting vaccinated against coronavirus COVID-19.

The state’s Paid Sick Leave law covers any necessary recovery period an employee needs after getting the COVID vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday during a coronavirus briefing in Manhattan.

People may experience flu-like symptoms or side effects after getting their vaccine, with increased chances for more severe side effects after receiving the second dose.

“The side effects of the vaccine are very limited,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I don’t want to suggest there are going to be side effects because it’s relatively de minimis, but if that’s an issue for you, that issue is resolved. You won’t miss a day’s pay because of getting a vaccine.”

About 48% of unvaccinated people are worried they will need to miss work from vaccine side effects, including body aches or a fever, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation study Cuomo cited Thursday.

Sixty-four percent of unvaccinated Hispanic and 55% of unvaccinated African-Americans expressed concern about getting the vaccine because of the possibility of needing to call out of work.

“I understand the fears expressed in that study, but they’re not reality-based,” the governor said. “It is possible you get mild flu-like symptoms, but it’s not about the reality, it’s about the perception. If you have 48% of people who are worried... we want to address it. If someone has side effects and they take off a day, that will, by law, will be a paid sick leave day. They must get paid for any day that they need to recuperate from the side affects.”

Earlier this year, the state passed a law mandating all employers provide four hours of paid leave to employees to get Pfizer or Moderna’s two-dose, or Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot inoculation, or up to two hours of paid leave per dose.

New Yorkers are getting vaccinated at slower rates, with statewide coronavirus vaccinations recently declining 47%.

About 55.8% of New Yorkers over the age of 18 have been vaccinated against COVID to date, with 64.4% of adults in the state receiving at least one dose.

More than 18.7 million dosages have been distributed statewide since the vaccine first became available to health workers Dec. 14.

The state’s COVID-19 infection rate hit 0.65% Thursday, down from 0.70% the day before. Thursday’s positivity was the state’s lowest since Aug. 27, continuing 52 consecutive days of decline.

The state reports 51 more virus patients were discharged from hospitals Thursday, bringing the number of hospitalizations to 1,223 people, or the fewest since Nov. 1.

Ten New Yorkers died from coronavirus complications Wednesday — the lowest number of deaths in a 24-hour period since Oct. 30.

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