The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
We’ve been critical of Mayor de Blasio plenty for eight years, but on requiring all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID — the best way to wipe out this killer — he has been a 6′5″ tower of strength. His mandate for 100% vaccination of the workforce of 380,000 has produced a 93% compliance rate. And those numbers are climbing every hour.
Just a week into the universal requirement, even the very noisy protesters of the uniformed services have fallen in. The NYPD is at 86% protected. Among sanitmen, it’s also 86%. EMS is currently at 91% and firefighters are at 82%, a big jump from their quite low 58% just weeks ago.
Thursday morning, the mayor said that four unions had signed agreements acceding to the vaccination rules and how those rare medical and religious exemptions would be handed. The unions also dropped all legal challenges. By that afternoon, five more unions had come on. By Friday morning, the nine had become 15. Friday afternoon, the tally was 20 locals, which de Blasio announced yesterday morning. But by the end of the day there were another three, bringing it to 23, representing almost 100,000 employees.
The goal is warding off COVID infections, serious illnesses and death. Everyone who is vaccinated gains protection and helps safeguard the whole community. De Blasio’s highly successful model must be adopted by other employers, in the private sector and in other government agencies. There’s added urgency since President Biden’s government mandate on large private employers may not survive court challenges.
One very large public employer that should quickly move to a 100% vaccination is the state-run MTA. The unionized folks driving the buses and trains and running all those subway stations are no different from city workers in most respects, except they have a COVID test option and the TA’s vax rate is a pretty lousy 68%.
Gov. Hochul must apply the same medicine to the tens of thousands at the MTA.
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