NY healthcare workers soon required to get COVID booster shot

All New York healthcare workers will be required to get a COVID booster shot as soon as next week, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday.

The plan must still be technically approved by the state Department of Health’s rule-making body, the Public Health and Health Planning Council, but it is expected to easily get the OK, Hochul said. The council is on track to meet Tuesday, Jan. 11. 

“We anticipate swift approval, and it’ll take effect immediately,” said Hochul during a press conference at her Manhattan office Friday.

Workers will be required to get the shot within two weeks of the proposed requirement passing.

“We’ll make sure that we are doing everything we can — all those levers, all those buttons, we can push — and this is why we wanted to make sure to get those healthcare workers boosted as well,” Hochul said of the state’s coronavirus-fighting steps. 

Healthcare workers wearing masks stand in front of a COVID-19 testing booth in Times Square.
Gov. Hochul’s plan still needs to be approved by the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The new requirement would permit a medical exemption, but there will be no test-out option for other workers, who were already ordered to be vaccinated.

Hochul, asked about healthcare workers who may refuse the extra shot, said there should be less of any issue because the idea isn’t new. She noted the controversial mandatory vaccination requirement that already took effect earlier this fall. She added that a worker shortage is creating an overwhelming crush of need.

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“They overcame the hurdle,” she said of the workers, who had to get vaxxed. 

“Those who had overcome a hurdle, I believe they will view this, as ‘I did this once, I will do it again.

“We are already losing healthcare workers because of them testing positive without symptoms. They’ve been going home. … It’s been a source of enormous stress,” she said.

 A healthcare worker administers a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.
Gov. Hochul said she doesn’t expect healthcare workers to refuse the extra shot.
REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

“We think it’s worth it to ask them to just do the right thing one more time.”

Hochul made waves earlier this fall when she approved a mandatory vaccination requirement for all healthcare workers in private and public facilities – including hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

The rule faced legal challenges from staffers who sought medical exemptions, but none prevailed in court.

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