The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees in New York is being lifted
Vaccine Reform in the Era of COVID: The Case of Garvey and the NYU Employee Vaccination Laws
Nowadays, he gets up, makes breakfast for his teenagers before school, finds things to do around the house or the yard, and then sits down to work on his lawsuit.
Garvey was not comfortable with how fast the vaccines had been rolled out. Plus, he felt he didn’t need a vaccine, because he’d had COVID in March 2020, at the very start of the pandemic.
As COVID has evolved into a less deadly disease, many employers have loosened or even dropped their vaccine mandates. The battle against their employer is still ongoing for some workers who were fired over the rules.
New York City has had some of the strictest and broadest vaccine mandates in the country. At the end of 2021, the city was issuing rules for both public and private sector workers.
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We do not deal with the public at all. We don’t respond to emergency calls. He said that they don’t go on people’s property. I was never sure if they were really going to fire us.
He requested a religious exemption but his request was denied. By January, he was put on unpaid leave, and on February 11, he was terminated.
The next day, New York City filed a notice of appeal, indicating its intent to fight the judge’s decision. There is no obligation for the city to rehir workers while the appeal is pending.
But also on that day, the city went the opposite direction on the vaccine mandate for the private sector. The Board of Health voted unanimously approve the plan to remove the private sector mandate after Mayor Eric Adams announced his intent to do so.
“I don’t think anything dealing with COVID is — makes sense, and there’s no logical pathway,” he told reporters in September. “You make decisions based on how to keep our city safe, how to keep our employees operating.”
First, Omicron turned out to be less deadly than previous variants. Second, it’s now clear that while vaccines reduce the risk of severe illness, they’re not that effective at stopping infection or transmission. According to the CDC, most Americans had had Covid at least once.
At the end of March, United Airlines brought back a couple of thousand unvaccinated workers who had been put on leave without pay due to declines in cases of vaccine preventable diseases.
More recently, employers including Tyson Foods and Goldman Sachs dropped their vaccine mandates altogether. Congress voted to end the U.S. military’s vaccine mandate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
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Smith used to make more than he did now driving a bus at the airport. If the court ruling is upheld, and city workers are offered reinstatement, he says he’ll definitely go back to his old job.
I don’t regret what I’ve done. He is waiting for his case to play out and doesn’t regret anything that has happened so far. “Might be a long way. Might be a short way. Might not be exactly what we want, but you know — we’ve won.”
The change will take effect Friday, following the next Board of Health meeting the day prior, and also applies to city Department of Education employees. For those who are visiting Department of Education schools, they no longer have to provide proof of vaccine dose.
These mandates were absolutely necessary to meet the moment and it was clear that they saved lives. As we leave the emergency phase of the Pandemic, we will need to modify some of the rules that have been put in place.