UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR) – New York’s vaccine mandate for health care workers is set to take effect on September 27, but now a federal judge has blocked the mandate, asking for a religious exemption to be added to the requirement.

“Right now, the Mohawk Valley Health System is moving forward with the original mandate as written,” said Darlene Stromstad, president and CEO of the Mohawk Valley Health Care System (MVHS). “I do not know what is going to happen with the religious exemption, and we have deadlines to meet, so we are moving forward as we always have been.”

MVHS has been working on communicating with their unvaccinated employees in order to get them comfortable with the vaccine. They are making physicians available to answer questions as well as offering vaccination pods.

However, Stromstad explains that there will be no exceptions for those who decide to not get the vaccine. “Of the people that have not been vaccinated, about a third, we believe, are waiting till the deadline to see if they really have to get vaccinated. Another third have genuine concerns about the vaccine, but there is another third, we believe, of the unvaccinated that are just simply not going to get the vaccine,” she said. “Those are the ones that will be leaving our organization.”

In Lewis County, their general hospital has been forced to pause its maternity services due to staffing shortages caused by the refusal to get the vaccine. Stromstad says that MVHS is a larger operation, so at this point, they are not planning on cutting or eliminating any service.

However, she does expect there to be some changes made. “We may have to curtail hours. We might consolidate some locations. There will be a disruption to the service we provide,” Stromstad said. “But we’re going to try as hard as we can to make sure that every service we offer, we can continue to offer.”