Gov. Kathy Hochul seemed resigned to the fact that many health care workers across New York State may be about to lose their jobs.
Monday is the deadline for more than 600,000 health care workers statewide to receive at least one dose of their COVID vaccine.
Staff shortages at hospitals and other facilities are anticipated.
“I will be signing an executive order to give me the emergency powers necessary to address these shortages where they occur,” Hochul said Monday. “That’s going to allow me to deploy the National Guard who are medically trained, deploy people who may be retired who may have had their license lapse.”
As of earlier this month, more than 15% of workers were still unvaccinated. While a wave of vaccinations is expected throughout the day, it’s unlikely to reach 100% for workers.
“We’ve been in contact with the hospitals, we’ve been in contact with the nursing homes. Having them tell us what their expectations are. I won’t have a clear number because of the lag time. There will be people vaccinated today. I have no doubt,” Hochul said.
Critics say forcing workers to choose between getting vaccinated or losing their careers is too heavy handed, and that more exemptions should be allowed.
“I think it’s a bully tactic that Kathy Hochul used,” said Nick Langworthy, the Republican state chairman. “And she has given zero flexibility to people who have dedicated their lives to the service of others. We’ve come a long way from a ticker tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes to now where it is take a vaccine or lose your job.”
The directive for mandatory vaccinations was initiated by Hochul’s predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, last month. But rather than delay or modify it, even with potential staff shortages, Hochul opted to go forward with it, keeping that aspect of vaccination policy consistent.