New York orders police officers, firefighters to get vaccinated

A police officer walks with his sniffing dog outside of the US District Courthouse on Oct 12. (AP pic)


NEW YORK: Today, New York City ordered all public workers, including police officers, to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or risk losing their jobs, the latest inoculation mandate in the US that is likely to prove contentious.

The order will apply to 160,000 city employees – also affecting firefighters, prison guards and sanitation workers – mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

The mandate will come into force from Nov 1, apart from corrections officers who will have another month to get vaccinated due to a staffing crisis at Rikers Island prison.

“Unvaccinated employees will be placed on unpaid leave until they show proof of vaccination to their supervisor,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.

They will not have the option of providing a negative test instead.

The order is likely to be contentious as New York’s police unions have already voiced opposition to employment based on inoculation, citing personal freedom.

As an incentive, city employees will receive an extra US$500 in their paycheck if they get vaccinated by Oct 29.

More than 70% of the workers affected by the mandate have already received at least one vaccine dose, which leaves around 46,000 of them unvaccinated.

The order essentially extends an earlier mandate that required all public sector teachers and healthcare workers to receive a vaccine. That directive dramatically increased vaccination rates.

More than 34,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the city of more than 8 million people.

New York City already requires vaccines for most indoor activities, including dining, broadway shows, cinemas and gyms.

More than 84% of adults in the city have already received at least one vaccine dose, according to official statistics.

In Chicago, a police union is challenging the city’s attempts to force all police officers to get vaccinated.