A rush of eleventh-hour inoculations sharply reduced the number of New York City emergency responders who failed to meet the city’s coronavirus vaccination requirement as it began to be enforced on Monday, officials said.
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A rush of eleventh-hour inoculations sharply reduced the number of New York City emergency responders who had failed to meet the city’s coronavirus vaccination requirement as it began to be enforced on Monday, officials said.
The vaccination rate for all city employees, including police officers and firefighters, rose to 91 per cent from 86 per cent late last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said over the weekend on Twitter.
On Oct. 20, de Blasio ordered the city’s 50,000 uniformed services workers, including emergency medical and sanitation employees, to have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by late Friday afternoon.
Enforcement of the mandate in the city of 8.8 million people was set to start on Monday. De Blasio said that employees reporting for duty who had failed to get immunized would not be paid.
Union officials said last week at least one-third of firefighters and police officers were unvaccinated, and predicted worker shortages as a result. The mandate eliminated a COVID-19 testing alternative that they said had worked well.
At a pre-dawn briefing, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro predicted that dozens of fire companies would be forced to shut down, and urged the city to give his members more time to comply, NY1 TV reported.
But Ansbro added, “This is not a city in crisis.”
De Blasio, a Democrat, who had predicted a last-minute vaccination surge, said 2,300 workers were immunized on Saturday alone.
“More than half of the workers who haven’t been vaccinated yet have submitted exemption requests and those requests are being processed,” he said on Twitter on Sunday.
Workers with pending exemption requests will continue to be paid, officials have said.
By Sunday, the mayor’s office said the vaccination rate for emergency medical services workers had jumped to 87 per cent from 74 per cent on Thursday. The Fire Department of New York reported late Friday that its rate had jumped to 77 per cent from 64 per cent a day earlier.
The most recent vaccination rate for the New York City Police Department, which de Blasio put at 74 per cent on Thursday, was not immediately available.
The dispute is the latest in the U.S. over vaccine mandates that have been increasingly imposed by political leaders, including President Joe Biden, to help stem the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. Police officers and firefighters in Chicago and Los Angeles have also pushed back hard.
New York City police and firefighter unions have challenged the mandate in court. But the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York said courts last week rejected its requests for an emergency order to halt the mandate’s enforcement.
— From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 11 a.m. ET
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What’s happening around the world
As of Monday morning, more than 246.8 million COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s online coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Cambodia on Monday began vaccinating five-year-old children against the coronavirus as its leader announced the start of the country’s reopening, including the phased re-entry of foreign tourists. Vaccinations for two million children age six to 11 began Sept. 17 and are nearly complete.
In the Middle East, Israel on Monday began welcoming individual tourists for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. It had planned to reopen to tourists last spring but delayed the move amid a spike in cases driven by the delta variant. Israel has since rolled out a booster campaign in which nearly half the population has received a third vaccine dose.
In Europe, the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv implemented tough new restrictions on Monday in an attempt to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that is affecting many countries across eastern Europe amid a low take-up of vaccinations.
From Monday, residents of Kyiv will have to present vaccine certificates or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to use restaurants, cafés, gyms, entertainment facilities and shopping malls. Staff working in those places must have been vaccinated. City authorities have said special teams will monitor compliance with the restrictions on public transport.
In Africa, protests erupted across cities in Morocco on Sunday against a coronavirus vaccine passport that is required to access indoor activities and travel. Proof of vaccination has been mandatory since Oct. 21 for all Moroccans to enter their place of work and restaurants and for domestic and international air travel.
In the Americas, Mexico’s Health Ministry said it had received nearly six million AstraZeneca vaccine doses against COVID-19 as pressure grows on the government to widen its vaccination rollout to include children.
— From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:30 a.m. ET