ALBANY (N.Y.) -- As of Friday, home health aides barred from working with New York patients under a new state mandate. One industry group warned that this could result in thousands of caregivers losing jobs.
Gov. Kathy Hochul also applies to employees at assisted living homes and hospice care, treatment centres, and AIDS home care program workers. This mandate is in addition to a previous mandate that was implemented last month and covered nursing home and hospital workers.
According to the state's vaccine mandate, health care workers can be fired if they aren't vaccinated.
According to data from the state Department of Health, approximately 86% of 244,750 New York home health aides have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This information was provided to The Associated Press Friday.
Of these aides, 71.3% have been fully vaccinated.
Joe Pecora, Vice President of the Home Healthcare Workers of America recently stated that almost 70% of its 32,000 members had received COVID-19 shots.
It was not clear whether home-health agencies had to suspend or terminate large numbers of employees on Friday. Although hospitals across the state had to fire staff who refused to receive shots, a rush by reluctant workers to get vaccinated kept large-scale staff shortages from occurring.
According to spokesperson Caren Browning, 97% of Visiting Nurse Service of New York staff had been vaccinated, or were exempt from it, as of Friday. The agency employs 8,800 home health aides, and served 75,000 clients last year.
Browning stated that it was one of few home care agencies to establish a vaccine clinic to immunise staff and the community.
Hochul and officials from the state's health department met with representatives of major home care associations to press for emergency funding and vaccinations to be phased in.
Al Cardillo, President and CEO of the Home Care Association of New York State, warned that only foreign workers will be able fill the staffing gaps.
Hochul, a Democrat has stated that mandates for health workers are necessary to protect vulnerable New Yorkers against being infected with the virus by unvaccinated caregivers. Infected staff spread the virus to patients already in danger, causing many deaths in state nursing homes.
Jill Montag, spokesperson for the Health Department, stated that people have the right to demand that anyone entering their home is vaccinated.
On Nov. 1, the state will expand its mandate to include workers in state-run facilities that provide health care for individuals with mental or developmental disabilities.
Court challenges to overturn the mandates have failed so far. A Friday ruling from an Albany state judge lifted a temporary order that had been in effect and denied a preliminary against a mandate. A federal judge granted temporary exemption to health care workers from the requirement for vaccination, while legal battles continue.