Judge says NYC public employee vaccine mandate can take effect

(FiveNation.com)- New York City will indeed be allowed to go ahead with a plan to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for every municipal employee.

This week, Lizette Colon, a judge in the state, ruled that the city’s new vaccine requirement can proceed as planned. The police union was trying to block that mandate.

By Friday, all municipal workers for the city must have at least one of their doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the corrections officers have a December 1 deadline to do the same.

There is both a reward and a punishment for those municipal workers who do and don’t abide by the rule. Workers who prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will get a $500 bonus added to their normal paycheck. Those who don’t provide proof, or don’t get vaccinated, will be placed on leave without pay and won’t be able to return until they can prove they are vaccinated.

Up until this point, employees with New York City were able to opt out of being vaccinated by taking a COVID-19 test on a weekly basis. This will no longer be available as an alternative, though.

The Associated Press reported that Colon also ruled that city officials have to go to court on November 12 so they can defend their requirement as part of the lawsuit filed by the union. That suit seeks to have all of New York City’s mandates for COVID-19 vaccination declared illegal.

In a statement, Pat Lynch, the president of the police union, said the judge’s ruling “sets the city up for a real crisis” that will “inevitably result in fewer cops available to protect our city.”

Dermot Shea, the city’s police commissioner, said 73% of the department’s workforce has already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The department didn’t provide any details to the AP about how it would manage its duties if more than a quarter of its workforce were to be put on leave without pay.

The only comment that did come from the department was a statement from Al Baker, a spokesman for the NYPD. He wrote a statement to the AP that read:

“We will be prepared for any changes in personnel due to the mandate.”

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court also heard arguments in a separate but similar case. This one had to do with a vaccine mandate that’s being put in place on workers in the health-care field.

In that case, the judges also seemed to support arguments from the state of New York that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers in the health-care field wasn’t a violation of rights given to them under the Constitution. The AP reported that the judges seemed to lean that way, despite there not being an exemption available for religious reasons.

On the entire situation, the city’s Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio, said:

“There is no greater privilege than serving the people of New York City, and that privilege comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe.”