It’s over. As of February 10, city workers will no longer be required to have the Covid vaccine. On Monday, February 6, Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city will make the vaccine optional for current and prospective city workers, as well as for guardians entering school buildings for events and activities.
“With more than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary COVID-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision. I continue to urge every New Yorker to get vaccinated, get boosted, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19,” Mayor Adams said.
Beginning February 10, the city will make the COVID-19 vaccination requirement optional for city employees, in addition to New York City Department of Education (DOE) employees. At this point, the city has fully processed and issued decisions for all pending reasonable accommodation appeals. While the approximately 1,780 former employees terminated for failing to submit proof of vaccination will not be able to automatically return to their previous positions, they will be able to apply for positions with their former agencies through existing city rules and regulations and hiring processes. The city will also end the vaccination requirements for nonpublic school, early childcare, and daycare staff.
The vaccine mandate for city workers had been in effect since October 2021, when former Mayor Bill de Blasio put it in place. When Adams was inaugurated in January 2022, he kept the mandate in place. The Common Sense Caucus, made up of council members, fought against the mandates for several months and celebrated Monday’s decision.
“This news will come as an incredible relief to thousands of city workers and their families, and the parents and guardians who have been barred from attending their children’s public school events. There is more to be done for those workers who were unjustly fired for making personal medical choices, but this is a tremendous step toward righting the wrongs of the previous administration’s misguided pandemic policies,” the Caucus said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Mayor and this administration for listening to us, to their constituents, and to common sense.”
Local Councilwoman Joann Ariola, who is part of the Common Sense Caucus, was also relieved by the news. “Today’s announcement to suspend mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all city workers proves that we’ve been correct all along,” Ariola said. “From the very beginning of this pandemic, my colleagues and I have opposed these requirements. Every single day, my office has worked to hold city agencies accountable, and ensure that vaccine non-compliant employees were given proper accommodations. Today, all of those vaccine non-compliant individuals who remain on the workforce will no longer be subjected to weekly tests, and new hires will no longer be required to prove their vaccination status. This opens up a pool of potential employees to fill in the manpower gaps that have opened since 2020. Not only that, but unvaccinated parents and guardians will again be able to attend functions and activities at DOE schools, enabling them to fully participate in the extracurricular lives of their children once more.
“This is a tremendous step forward for our city and will undoubtedly bring about benefits all across the board,” the Councilwoman added. “What we are seeing now is proof that we should never stop fighting for what we know is right, and we should never give up on the spirit of New York. It’s been a long three years to get to this point, but we have arrived, and we can finally begin putting the chaos and confusion of the COVID-19 era behind us. That said, there is still more work to be done. We will not forget about those who lost their careers as a result of these unjust mandates, and I will not stop fighting until each and every one of those men and women who were removed from service is reinstated.”