ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Department of Health announced that Monday’s booster mandate for eligible healthcare workers will no longer go into effect. DOH said it will reassess in three months what additional steps need to be taken to increase the number of booster shots among healthcare workers.
“They are doing the right thing,” said Republican Senator Dan Stec. “If they did nothing, we would have had thousands of people that would either have to get the vaccine by Monday or lose their jobs.”
This announcement comes after the Healthcare Association of New York State asked for a 90-day extension. Sixteen Republican senators called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to end the booster mandate.
A letter they sent to her stated that the Iroquois Healthcare Alliance indicates the registered nurse vacancy is over 25% in Upstate and Rural Hospitals. The alliance represents roughly 45 hospitals and healthcare systems in the state.
“Last week, we surveyed 37 of our facilities—27,000 employees in 37 hospitals had not been boosted late last week,” explained Gary Fitzgerald, the President and CEO of Iroquois Healthcare Alliance.
Fitzgerald said that number is close to 40% of the employees they represent. He added that efforts are being made to help get healthcare workers to get boosted, but many wouldn’t have made the booster deadline if it were still on Monday.
“After walking through fire for us collectively for the past two years, they deserve much better than that,” said Stec. “Again, it just didn’t make sense to say, ‘We’d rather not have you work in our hospitals if you don’t get this booster.’ So, the Department of Health finally got this one right.”
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Basset said this decision was made to avoid major staffing issues in an already overstressed healthcare system. She stated 75% of healthcare workers have or are willing to receive their booster. This will give them more time to do so.