Gov. Hochul: National Guard to help with potential hospital staffing shortages

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BRONX, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul helped launch a community COVID-19 booster vaccination site in New York City Monday morning, where she also spoke about the state’s vaccine mandate for health care workers statewide; a mandate that went into effect Monday.

Booster shots

The governor announced this weekend that New York state has enough booster shots available to cover all of those who currently qualify. She said the state has endorsed the CDC recommendations on booster shots for at-risk New Yorkers.

The state has launched a “robust Implementation and outreach plan to ensure the availability and accessibility of booster doses statewide.” Additionally, there’s a new state website dedicated to booster shot information and resources.

“Our top priority remains staying ahead of this constantly changing virus and protecting New Yorkers with effective, long-lasting vaccines,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul. “As we’ve heard from our federal and State medical and health experts, as with many other vaccines, the protection from the COVID-19 vaccine can wane over time. A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will help particularly at-risk New Yorkers stay protected from the virus for longer. While the focus of our vaccination effort remains ensuring all unvaccinated New Yorkers get vaccinated, those who are booster eligible should waste no time receiving maximum protection from COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

According to officials from the governor’s office:

New Yorkers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should receive their booster dose at least six months after their primary vaccine series IF:

  • They are 65 years and older or residents in long-term care settings.
  • They are 50-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions. 

New Yorkers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may receive their COVID-19 booster dose at least six months after their primary vaccine series IF:

  • They are18-49 years with underlying medical conditions, based on your individual benefits and risks.
  • They are 18-64 years and are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of your occupational or institutional setting, based on your individual benefits and risks. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed a CDC advisory committee’s recommendation to allow older or otherwise vulnerable Americans to get the Pfizer booster. The CDC has not yet endorsed Moderna or Johnson & Johnson boosters. According to CDC reccomendations:

“People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.

People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine atleast 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.

People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.”

“Getting New Yorkers vaccinated still remains our top priority as we work to stop the spread of COVID,” Gov. Hochul said.

If you’re eligible and would like to get the booster, you can book an appointment through the NYS’s website, here.

Health care vaccine mandate

The deadline for hospital and nursing home workers in New York state to be vaccinated against COVID-19 arrived Monday with the prospect of severe staff shortages fueled by workers getting suspended or fired for refusing to be inoculated.

With thousands of workers still thought to be holding out, hospital administrators prepared contingency plans that included cutting back on noncritical services and limiting admissions at nursing homes.

Gov. Hochul said this weekend she was prepared to call in medically trained National Guard members and retirees, or vaccinated workers from outside the state, to fill any gaps. The governor reiterated that sentiment during Monday morning’s press conference, adding that she would sign an executive order to authorize the National Guard resources should they be nedded.

The governor has held firm on the mandate in the face of pleas to delay it and multiple lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.

All health care workers in New York state at hospitals and nursing homes are required to be vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Monday. Employees who refuse the shots face suspensions and termination.

The rules apply not just to people like doctors and nurses, but also to others who work in health care institutions, like food service workers, administrators and cleaners.

The mandate comes as hospitals are already reeling from staff shortages fueled in part by workers retiring and employees seeking other jobs after 18 months of the pandemic.

Health care workers can apply for a religious exemption, at least for now. A federal judge on Oct. 12 will consider a legal challenge arguing that such exemptions are constitutionally required.


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