CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The clock is ticking as New York is approaching the vaccination mandate deadline for health care workers. If they choose not to get vaccinated by the deadline, they can lose their jobs.

In preparation for the Monday deadline, Gov. Kathy Hochul is planning to help the healthcare staffing shortage before it gets worse. “Plenty of notice, plenty of availability, plenty of chances,” she said in reference to the state’s health care employee vaccine mandate.

The industry is already facing a staffing shortage. “Our ambulances throughout the county are experiencing longer wait times to be able to turn the patients over,” says Greene County EMS Coordinator Sean Hotaling.

Hochul plans to sign an executive order if necessary to declare a state of emergency that seeks to increase workforce supply. She says she’s prepared to call in medically trained National Guard members and retirees to help with potential staffing shortages caused by the state’s vaccine mandate. The governor’s order will also allow qualified health care professionals licensed in other states or countries to come work in New York State.

According to state data, as of October 22, 84% of all hospital employees in New York State received their shots, the Capital Region reaching 91%, the highest vaccination rate in the state. However, there are still many health care workers in New York who have not been vaccinated.

“As nurses, we are committed to providing the best care for our patients and working with the Governor on these efforts. We need adequate staffing to protect our patients and our colleagues, and we want to do everything we can to avoid returning to crisis levels during the pandemic. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for her leadership and for her bold and strategic plan to support nurses, patients, and ensuring the best possible care.”

Pat Kane, RN, Executive Director of New York State Nurses Association

The State Department of Labor has released guidance clarifying workers who get fired for not getting a vaccine will not be eligible for unemployment insurance, that is unless their doctor has approved their medical exemption.

“UUP will continue to fight for adequate funding and staffing at the SUNY Hospitals and is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our members and their patients. We understand the step that Governor Hochul is taking in light of the potential staff shortage. We remain hopeful that this step will not be necessary. We continue to urgently call on all UUP members and all New Yorkers to get vaccinated immediately.” 

Frederick E. Kowal, PH.D, President of United University Professions