ALBANY, N.Y. — In the final push before New York state's vaccine mandate for medical workers took effect Monday, at least 8,700 nursing home workers chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine to avoid losing their jobs, state data showed.
The percentage of nursing home staff receiving at least one dose of COVID-19 increased to 89% as of Sunday, up from 83% on Wednesday.
Still, that means about 16,000 of the 145,000 total nursing home workers statewide had yet to comply with the vaccine mandate, which has some nursing home operators concerned about staff shortages negatively impacting care for residents.
As for hospitals, the number of workers who waited to the 11th hour to comply with the vaccine mandate remains unclear, as the state-run database tracking the effort has not been updated since Wednesday.
Hospitals reported 84% of their roughly 450,000 workers were vaccinated as of Wednesday, up from 81% on Sept. 15. That left the future employment of about 72,000 hospital workers unclear, though many hospitals policies appeared to allow workers to get vaccinated through the end of Monday in order to retain their jobs.
The showdown come as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has vowed to call up National Guard medical staff to fill staffing gaps in hospitals and nursing homes as part of an emergency plan revealed Saturday.
Other options include deploying vaccinated workers from other states or tapping recent graduates or retirees — similar to steps New York took at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 when hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID cases. Hochul's plan is also pursuing potentially bringing vaccinated workers from other countries, such as Ireland and the Philippines.
On Sunday, Hochul also pleaded with unvaccinated New Yorkers to get shots during comments delivered at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.
"We are not through this pandemic, I wished we were but I prayed a lot to God during this time and you know what - God did answer our prayers," she said. "He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers - he made them come up with a vaccine."
"I wear my 'vaccinated' necklace all the time to say I'm vaccinated," she added. "I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, we owe this to each other."
The Democrat governor's comments came after a federal judge on Sept. 14 issued a temporary restraining order blocking New York state from enforcing its medical worker vaccine mandate against those seeking a religious exemption.
The judge's order was connected to a lawsuit filed by 17 Catholic and Baptist medical workers who claimed the state disallowing a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate was unconstitutional.
Also, there is a temporary order blocking the mandate from going into effect for New York court workers.
Staff at other entities covered by the state medical worker vaccine mandate — including home care, hospice and adult care facilities — must get at least one dose by Oct. 7.
Follow David Robinson on Twitter: @DrobinsonLoHud
This article originally appeared on New York State Team: Thousands of New York health workers got vaccinated as mandate loomed