Unvaccinated healthcare workers in NY: What will happen to them on Monday

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NEW YORK (WETM) – As the CDC has just approved a third booster shot for healthcare workers some are still fighting against their first dose. The COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline for healthcare workers in New York takes effect on Monday.

“It’s ultimately up to the employer how they’re going to handle it, but if the employer doesn’t follow the mandate then the state can take action against the employer,” says Rick Ostrove, Attorney at Leeds Brown Law.

The New York healthcare worker vaccine mandate in its current form does not allow for religious exemptions. Governor Hochul along with N.Y. Health Department argued that there are no religious exemptions for other required vaccines such as measles and rubella and that the COVID-19 mandate is no different.

“I’m not aware of a sanctioned religious exemption from any organized religion, in fact, they are encouraging the opposite,” Hochul said. “Everybody from the pope on down is encouraging people to get vaccinated.”  

Health professionals sued the state, claiming their constitutional rights were violated resulting in a federal judge stepping in and issuing an order. But, the stay the judge put into place does not stop the mandate from taking effect.

“It [the stay issued by the federal judge] just stopped the state from taking any action that would prevent an employer from permitting a religious exemption,” said Ostrove.

A majority of religious exemption requests cite the use of fetal cell lines in the development of vaccines. but, so do many other everyday medications such as Benadryl, Tums, and Tylenol.

“What some employers are doing is testing whether or not these requests are based on sincerely held religious belief- at least one employer has given employees a survey asking what other medications they take,” said Ostrove.

Two weeks ago, 18 News spoke to the former CEO of Guthrie, Joseph Scopelliti, and he reported, “Overall a little north of 80% of our staff is currently vaccinated fully.”

Guthrie declined to make a statement on their current vaccination rates. Sources from Arnot Health have confirmed that over the past couple of weeks vaccination rates have picked up amongst their employees.

To sum up, as of right now, if a healthcare worker is not vaccinated by Monday, and does not have either a valid medical or religious exemption, they will be fired according to this mandate.

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