As many as 50,000 home health care workers in New York may be fired over their refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine as the state’s new mandate goes into effect

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  • A new COVID vaccine mandate for home health care workers such as hospice care and treatment center workers goes into effect Friday in New York
  • Employees have until midnight to prove they have received at least one dose of the vaccine or are at risk of being fired
  • Some estimates have suggested that 50,000 of the state’s 250,000 workers have been immunized
  • This comes on top of another mandate implemented last month, which covers hospital and nursing home workers
  • Gov. Kathy Hochul has said the mandate for health care workers protects vulnerable New Yorkers from being infected by uninfected caregivers.

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Tens of thousands of home health workers in New York who refuse to receive a COVID-19 vaccine are being fired as the state’s new mandate goes into effect Friday.

About 250,000 people working in assisted living homes, hospice care, treatment centers and AIDS home care programs have until midnight to prove that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine or exposure to cessation.

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Some industry representatives say that one in five still hasn’t got their first shot – meaning as many as 50,000 could lose their jobs.

The mandate, put in place by Gov. Kathy Hochul, comes on top of another mandate implemented last month, which covers hospital and nursing home workers.

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A new COVID vaccine mandate in New York is on Friday for home health care workers such as hospice care and treatment centers workers with until midnight to prove they have been vaccinated or removed from risk. Image: Monique Iskarus (left) A dentist receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Anaheim January 2021

Some estimates have suggested that 50,000 of the state's 250,000 workers have been vaccinated.  Vaccination rate temporarily increased after mandate for hospital staff went into effect

Some estimates have suggested that 50,000 of the state’s 250,000 workers have been vaccinated. Vaccination rate temporarily increased after mandate for hospital staff went into effect

New York has kept up-to-date data on how many hospital and nursing home workers have been vaccinated since the start of the rollout.

As of Friday, 89 percent of hospital staff and 97 percent of those working in long-term care facilities have been vaccinated.

But state officials are not closely tracking the vaccination status of home health aides.

This means it is not clear how far New York is from reaching 100 percent.

It was not clear early Friday whether home health agencies were having to suspend or lay off large numbers of workers.

Some estimates have suggested that more than 50,000 home health workers remain unvaccinated.

Joe Pecora, vice president of America’s Home Healthcare Workers, recently estimated that about 70 percent. The group’s 32,000 members had received the COVID-19 shot.

Pechora said, ‘We need more time’ the new York Times.

‘It is unrealistic to get all these people vaccinated by the deadline.

Meanwhile, New York’s Visiting Nurse Service, the state’s largest home health care agency, says 90 percent of employees have been vaccinated and it looks like about 400 workers will lose their jobs.

“Even a small percentage of home care workers are not working, which will affect thousands of homebound individuals,” Dan Savitt, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, told The Times.

‘The rough math here is unavailable for every one percent of full-time associates, there are about 1,500 Medicaid members who will be affected.’

Gov. Kathy Hochul has said the mandate for health care workers protects vulnerable New Yorkers from being infected by uninfected caregivers.  Pictured: Hochul speaks during a ceremony to sign a package of bills to tackle the opioid crisis in New York in October 2021

Gov. Kathy Hochul has said the mandate for health care workers protects vulnerable New Yorkers from being infected by uninfected caregivers. Pictured: Hochul speaks during a ceremony to sign a package of bills to tackle the opioid crisis in New York in October 2021

When the hospital mandate came into force, medical centers across the state had to lay off staff who refused shots, but last-minute rush of workers reluctant to vaccinate sparked massive staff shortages .

Hochul, a Democrat, has said a mandate for health care workers is needed to protect vulnerable New Yorkers from being infected by uninfected caregivers.

Many of the deaths at the state’s nursing homes during the worst months of the pandemic in 2020 have been blamed on infected staff unknowingly spreading the virus to already vulnerable patients.

The state’s mandate is set to expand again on November 1, to include workers who work in state-run facilities that provide health care to individuals with developmental disabilities or mental health needs.

Court challenges aimed at overturning the mandate have so far failed, but a federal judge has temporarily allowed health care workers to request a religious exemption from vaccinations while the legal battle is underway.

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