Vaccine deadline looms for state healthcare workers

Coronavirus

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In just a few days, all New York State healthcare workers are mandated to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This applies to all staff at nursing homes, long-term care facilities and hospitals.

“If you’re a healthcare worker, Monday is the big day,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a briefing Thursday. “Every single person who ends up in your care has the right to know that they’re as safe as they can be, that there is no chance they can be infected by the person charged with protecting them and their health.”

Locally, 82% of healthcare workers at Catholic Health are vaccinated, 85% for ECMC, and 91% of the staff at Kaleida Health have received their shot.

Hochul said the state is preparing for potential staffing shortages come Monday.

“I’ll be announcing a whole series of initiatives that we are doing to be prepared for a whole situation Monday, which I hope doesn’t happen,” she said.

This week, ECMC announced they anticipate roughly 400 of their employees will not be vaccinated by Monday’s deadline. As a result, the hospital is planning to suspend elective surgeries and stop accepting ICU transfers from other hospitals.

“We’ve already lost hundreds of thousands of people in this country, and – by the way – some of them were healthcare providers,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “So we’ve already lost some people in the health field, and as long as we have people not willing to take a vaccine, there is a good chance we could lose a lot more.”

Officials with Kaleida said they have received religious exemption requests following a lawsuit against the state’s mandate. This week a federal judge extended a temporary restraining order for those who were included in that lawsuit until October 12.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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