Gov. Kathy Hochul wants all New York health care workers to receive COVID-19 booster shots and a negative coronavirus test will be required for visitors to state nursing homes and adult-care facilities as part of the state’s latest efforts to slow virus transmission. All health care workers in the state must get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot within two weeks of eligibility or face suspension or termination.
The governor’s mandate issued last Friday is an example of how the vaccines and booster shots brought to bear against COVID-19 can be checkmated more than once by this evolving, mutating pandemic.
The requirement will not allow health workers to have a test-out option and only permits requests for medical exemptions. All state health personnel were required to have at least one dose of an approved COVID vaccine by Sept. 27 or lose their employment. A court challenge to allow religious exemptions for the mandate was struck down in the fall.
Opponents of the mandate say it will exacerbate staffing shortages and burden an exhausted workforce as the pandemic continues for the 22nd month.
Hochul countered Friday the state’s limited health workforce has increasingly gotten sick with the surging COVID-19 infections, and the order would increase vaccine boosters in the state health workforce to prevent them from severe illness.
With the number of COVID-19 cases soaring and nursing homes seeing positive tests rise among staff and residents, it’s well worth it for health care workers to protect themselves and the people in their care. We have to do all we can to maintain our health and safety in these new days of omicron. Another mandate may not be what we want, but it is what we need.