Not all city workers will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by next month.
The Department of Correction (DOC) is getting an extended deadline as the city continues to struggle to get officers back to work and a crisis of staffing continues to complicate conditions on Rikers Island.
All city workers will be required to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by November 1, with the exception of Department of Correction officers.
"There is a small group of uniformed correction officers who will have a different deadline. And, in that case, it will be for December 1," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday during a press conference at City Hall.
De Blasio is making the concession as the city struggles to get officers on Rikers Island back to work.
"We're giving a few more weeks for the uniforms because we're in the process right now of bringing back a number of uniformed officers who weren't present and we're in the process of intensely lowering the population," de Blasio said.
The city has yet to provide evidence that the staffing crisis on Rikers Island is improving. During a Board of Correction meeting this week, DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi cautioned that a mandate could worsen staffing problems.
"If everybody was mandated and we lost a lot of staff we'd have a lot more triples and unstaffed posts," Schiraldi said.
For months now, thousands of officers have consistently called out sick or failed to report for duty. As a result, the department is failing to manage the jails leading to conditions that are dangerous for detainees and officers alike. So far, 14 people have died while in custody.
Vaccination rates for the Department of Correction are the lowest among the uniformed workforce. Only 51% of officers have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the city.
The Correction Officers Benevolent Association was unusually quiet after the mayor's announcement. Union leaders did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
There are currently 53 patients with an active COVID-19 infection. Thousands of detainees have received at least one shot. So far, 3,946 detainees have received at least one dose of the shot since it became available in January.
Just days ago, a man who contracted the virus while in custody died hours after he was transferred to Elmhurst hospital due to complications from the virus. He'd been granted conditional release hours before his death.