NEW YORK - Saying they want the impact to be ‘far broader,’ New York City health officials are hoping a new COVID safety protocol will lead other industries to follow suit.
Speaking during a briefing on the pandemic Wednesday, NYC Health and Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitch Katz and NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi joined Mayor Bill de Blasio on calling on the public and private sector to take their lead.
Beginning August 2, all NYC Health + Hospital employees and all clinical workers for the Department of Health must be vaccinated or get tested weekly. Those who refuse will be suspended without pay.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital system already requires its employees to get their first shots by September 1.
"I think you're going to see other public and private health care systems see this announcement and decide this is their time as well. I think you're going to see private businesses who have the right to put the rules together for the health and safety of their employees making that choice. The more institutions that make this choice in our society, the faster we will beat the delta variant," said de Blasio.
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60% of staff at city-run health facilities are fully vaccinated, exceeding the 58% of all New Yorkers who have had a least one dose of the COVID vaccine, but well below the target of 70%.
The delta variant of the coronavirus is responsible for 83% of all COVID cases in the United States.
"We have to take whatever steps are necessary in order to protect New Yorkers," said Katz.
"We are calling on the leaders on the rest of health care, whether a clinic or a pharmacy, we are urging you to look at this seriously because it is one of the most important steps that we can take at this stage in our vaccination campaign and particularly because of the threat of the delta variant. We aim to lead by example but we want the impact to be far broader," said Dr. Chockshi.
However, Mayor de Blasio says that if this new plan does not bring results, he is not ruling out introducing stronger measures, like a vaccine mandate.