Today, September 27, is New York state’s deadline for healthcare personnel to receive at least their first COVID-19 vaccine dose or risk losing their job. The only recognized exception is a medical accommodation. There are no religious of philosophical exceptions to the vaccine mandate. This mandate is bound to be disruptive within the industry, given that statistics suggest anywhere from 16% to 23% of the healthcare workforce remains unvaccinated as of last week. Health care employers are now scrambling to cover anticipated staff shortages, canceling or postponing elective surgeries, reducing operating room hours, significantly cutting back hours of certain non-essential programs and re-deploying staff to cover gaps in critical services.
Over the weekend, Governor Kathy Hochul said she is prepared to declare a state of emergency in medically compromised regions of the state and send medically-trained providers from the National Guard to assist in those short-staffed areas. Similar to former Governor Cuomo's allowances during the height of the pandemic, Hochul's plan also allows qualified healthcare professionals licensed in other states, retirees and medical residents to temporarily practice in New York state.