Thousands of healthcare workers vaccinated New York just before deadline

Thousands of healthcare workers in the U.S. state of New York have been vaccinated against the coronavirus just before a vaccination deadline. Hospital staff who are still unvaccinated are now at risk of being suspended or fired.

The state of New York had given approximately 600,000 nursing home and hospital employees until midnight Monday to get vaccinated. This led to fears that massive healthcare staff shortages would arise if many thousands of vaccination refusals lost their jobs.

The grimest scenarios dont seem to come true now that many people have been inoculated at the trap, writes The New York Times. Around 8,000 unvaccinated employees were walking around a week ago in the city of New Yorks public hospitals. According to the newspaper, there were 5,000 on Monday, about 10 percent of the total number of employees.

Those employees are not allowed to return to work, but according to the newspaper, local government officials think staff shortages are manageable. The authorities had gambled that many health care doubters would still be vaccinated because they do not want to risk their jobs. At least that prediction seems to be partly true.

However, some hospitals have already announced that certain medical procedures are being forced to be suspended. This includes the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. That sent 20 percent of employees on unpaid leave because they refuse to get vaccinated. It is 276 staff members in total. Some hundred other staff were still inoculated in the last hours before the deadline expires.

There is a lot of opposition to the vaccination obligation. Opponents have certainly filed eight lawsuits. Critics believe, among other things, the state should consider people who do not want a vaccine for religious reasons. It is also argued that people who have recovered from corona infection should not be covered by the rules.

Despite that resistance, the vaccination rate among hospital staff across the state has risen to 92 percent, Governor Kathy Hochuls office estimates. She approved emergency measures on Monday to avoid chaos in healthcare if staff are to be massively put on non-active.

Among other things, Hochul can engage the National Guard, a kind of spare army, to jump in. The procedure also allows caregivers from other states who would not normally be authorized to work in New York.