Employees of New York City are no longer required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment following a new announcement from the mayor.
Mayor Eric Adams announced on Feb. 6 that the COVID-19 vaccine will be optional for all current and future municipal workers including those employed by the Department of Education.
“With more than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary COVID-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision,” Adams said in a statement. “I continue to urge every New Yorker to get vaccinated, get boosted, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19.”
The policy change goes into effect on Feb. 10.
The mayor’s office reports that all “pending reasonable accommodation appeals” have been processed.
“While the approximately 1,780 former employees terminated for failing to submit proof of vaccination will not be able to automatically return to their previous positions, they will be able to apply for positions with their former agencies through existing city rules and regulations and hiring processes,” said Adams’ office.
The announcement comes less than a week after the Biden Administration announced its plans to terminate the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11. The Pentagon officially stopped requiring members of the armed force to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 10.
A group of 72 terminated municipal employees filed a $250 million lawsuit against New York City in January, requesting a judge strike down the vaccine mandate. The group comprised individuals formerly employed by several state agencies, including the New York Police Department, the New York Fire Department, the Department of Education and the Department of Health, who contend they were “thrown to the curb” and “callously terminated.” The group argued the mandate had been “rescinded for virtually everyone else in New York City,” per The New York Post.
New York Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri struck down a statewide COVID-91 vaccination requirement for healthcare workers on Jan. 14. Neri ruled in favor of the Medical Professionals for Informed Consent, the group that filed the lawsuit.
“The Mandate is beyond the scope of Respondents’ authority and is therefore null, void, and of no effect,” wrote Neri, per Syracuse.com. “In true Orwellian fashion, the Respondents acknowledge then-current COVID-19 shots do not prevent transmission.”
Adams’ announcement also ends the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for early childcare centers, daycare, and nonpublic schools. Individuals visiting New York City schools will no longer need to show proof of partial vaccination to enter.
“It’s clear these mandates saved lives and were absolutely necessary to meet the moment. We’re grateful that we can now, as we leave the emergency phase of the pandemic, modify more of the rules that have gotten us to this point,” said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner. “We cannot overstate our appreciation for the millions of New Yorkers who made the necessary sacrifices to keep our city safe and save lives.”