New York City will give parents who are city workers and contractors additional sick leave to get their kids COVID-19 vaccinations, and is working on passing legislation that would require private companies to similarly expand sick leave for parents as well, Mayor Bill de Blasio and city officials said at a Monday news conference.

The expanded sick leave policies would give parents four additional hours of sick leave per shot, per child, to be used for taking the child to get vaccinated or caring for them if they experience side effects. City health officials have said that side effects from the vaccinations for young children are typically mild.

The policy would be retroactive to Nov. 2, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years old.

Peter Hatch, commissioner of the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, said that the administration was working with the City Council to pass the legislation to extend the added sick leave to private employees “as soon as possible.”

“Since it’s relatively late in the year, we had a concern that some families would have exhausted the leave they had,” Hatch said.

Already on Monday morning, lines for the vaccines had formed at 12 schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and four schools had delays in getting their vaccination supplies, de Blasio said.

Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city health commissioner, emphasized that the city has an adequate supply of child-size vaccine doses, and suggested that city workers might redirect parents to other city-run clinics or to pharmacies if schools are overwhelmed.

The announcement comes as 16,723 children aged five to 11 years old have received the vaccine in the city since last Thursday. Starting today, city vaccination staff will begin going to every public school with students in that age group to provide shots.

De Blasio also announced upticks in vaccination rates for city uniformed services in the wake of the beginning of a vaccination mandate for all city employees last Monday. Citywide, 93% of the municipal workforce has received at least one vaccine dose.

  • Department of Sanitation: 86%, up from 62% on Oct. 20
  • New York Police Department: 86%, up from 70% on Oct. 20
  • FDNY fire service staff: 82%, up from 58% on Oct. 20
  • FDNY emergency medical service staff: 91%, up from 61% on Oct. 20

De Blasio added that high levels of sick leave in the fire department, which city officials have referred to as an unofficial sick-out, are now “back to regular levels, even below.”