Optimistic DSNY commissioner warns of possible service delays over vaccine mandate

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Over 160,000 New York City municipal workers have until October 29 to get their first shot of a COVID vaccine, and testing is no longer an option. One agency directly impacted is the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Of the nearly 10,000 employees in the agency, about 6,200, or 63%, of them are vaccinated, according to DSNY Commissioner Ed Grayson. As the vaccine mandate deadline draws closer, Grayson said he expects the vaccination rate to go up.

By keeping workers informed about what’s available to them, he hopes more people will get vaccinated.  Still, Grayson warned that the city may experience service delays if the vaccination rate is lower than anticipated.

Asked if DSNY has a contingency plan in case of a staff shortage due to the mandate, Grayson responded that during the height of the pandemic, sometimes 25% of the workforce was out. Even so, he said they got through it by using overtime and extending shifts.

Grayson also said the department will do what they can to ensure vaccines are available for their workers. Many may choose not to get vaccinated, optting instead for early retirement or quitting. The commissioner admitted that it’s possible, but said he wants to have a workforce committed to their job. 

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new COVID vaccine mandate extending to all New York City municipal workers that goes into effect on November 1. More than 160,000 city workers will need to show proof of at least one shot of a COVID vaccine by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 29, according to the mayor’s office.

To encourage unvaccinated city employees to get vaccinated, the city will give workers an extra $500 in their paycheck when they receive their first shot at a city-run vaccination site through October 29.

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