Hospitals and nursing homes in New York are bracing for the possibility that a looming statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers could lead to staff shortages.

With just days to go before healthcare workers in New York have been ordered to get at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or possibly lose their jobs, local health officials say they are ready to vaccinate anyone who needs a shot.

While a judge has put a delay on enforcement of the mandate, nursing homes and hospitals say they are looking ahead to the possibility of severe staff shortages.

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Health care workers had been given until Monday (September 27) to get at least their first vaccine shot or possibly lose their jobs in one of the nation’s most aggressive plans to protect patients.

A group of health professionals including doctors, nurses and health aids had filed a court challenge of the mandate on the claim it violated constitutional rights by not offering provisions for testing instead of vaccination for those who object on religious grounds.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News

Governor Kathy Hochul is standing by the mandate and said the religious exemption issue had been purposely left out of the language as the State worked with religious leaders.  The Democrat said those leaders, including the Pope, have generally supported their congregations get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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With just days left to go before the original deadline, many still hadn’t gotten the shots. That left the prospect of potentially thousands of health care workers being forced off the job next week.

Some hospitals and nursing homes were preparing contingency plans that included cutting back on elective surgeries and trimming medical services

Local Health Department officials have said they have resources available to help healthcare workers quickly arrange to get a shot in addition to free COVID vaccines being available for walk-ins at pharmacies and through doctor offices.  Hospitals have also been offering vaccinations since they were approved earlier this year.

 Vaccination information can be found at www.gobroomecounty.com.

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