Thousands New York City municipal employees were put on unpaid leave for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine as the vaccine mandate took effect on Nov. 1.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press briefing that 9,000 unvaccinated employees were on unpaid leave, making up less than six percent of the workforce of nearly 400,000.
“Every one of those 9,000 is welcome to come back, get vaccinated,” Blasio said.
Since the announcement of the mandate in October, there have been 22,472 new vaccinations, according to Blasio.
About 84% of the New York Police Department and 83% of the Department of Sanitation are vaccinated, Blasio said.
Blasio also said that 77% of the firefighting-side of the Fire Department is vaccinated while the emergency management side is at 88%.
“Thank you for doing the right thing,” Blasio said to the vaccinated.
Meanwhile, a total of 2,300 firefighters had called in sick in an apparent protest to the vaccine mandate, according to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
“Since the mandate was issued, our medical leave spiked up and we know that’s related to protests against the mandate. It’s obvious,” Nigro said.
When asked about the impact of firefighters on leave, Nigro said that firehouses remained open, but 18 of 350 units were out of service and “many units are understaffed.”
“Under-staffing could end immediately if members stopped going sick when they weren’t sick. And we hope that ends very soon,” Nigro said.
Blasio added that those who are misusing the sick leave will face “very serious consequences.”
Furthermore, about 12,000 employees have applied for a religious or medical exemption from getting the vaccine and their applications are being processed, Blasio said.
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