NEW YORK - New York will not enforce its mandate requiring health care workers to get COVID-19 boosters in light of concerns about staffing shortages, state health officials said Friday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul pointed to a troubling rise in breakthrough infections when she announced the mandate in January. Her administration set a deadline of Feb. 21.
But state health commissioner Mary Bassett said Friday that the decision to drop enforcement of the mandate reflects the reality that booster rates remain low, particularly in nursing homes.
"While we are making progress with 75% of staff received or are willing to receive their booster, the reality is that not enough healthcare workers will be boosted by next week’s requirement in order to avoid substantial staffing issues in our already overstressed healthcare system," Bassett said in a statement.
LeadingAge New York CEO Jim Clyne praised New York's move to halt enforcement of the mandate as "smart."
"Three days were not going to be enough time to get enough boosted staff members to serve the residents and patients we have to serve," he said.
New York already requires health care workers to get vaccinated, with exemptions for workers who have a medical reason for not being eligible to receive the shot. The state was set to join a few states that have announced plans to require boosters for health care workers, including California and New Mexico.
Bassett said state health officials will take another look at the booster mandate in three months to decide whether New York should take more steps to increase booster rates.