December 7, 2022

Thousands of home health workers could lose their jobs under New York’s latest COVID-19 vaccine mandate requiring they get shots by Friday, home care industry leaders said.

The mandate covers about 270,000 workers in home health care services, and at least 11,900 of those employees said they would rather quit or be fired than comply with the vaccination requirement, according to a survey conducted last month by the Home Care Association of New York State.

In recent weeks, however, some home health providers have reported increases in worker vaccinations, as the deadline to get the first dose loomed, said Al Cardillo, president and CEO of the association.

“But at the same time they’re reporting the (vaccination) gaps are still very significant,” he said, adding home health providers are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration to delay enforcement of the mandate to allow time to convince more workers to get shots and fill staffing gaps, if necessary.

“For the past year we were celebrating them as heroes. Now they’re to be fired, however, the biggest implication is: What does that mean for the service for the patients?” Cardillo said, adding the current home health worker vaccination rate remains unclear.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul wears a necklace with the word "vaxed" as she speaks during an event in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Hochul has selected Brian Benjamin, a state senator from New York City, as her choice for lieutenant governor. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Meanwhile, Hochul on Tuesday said she remained committed to enforcing vaccine mandates in health-related professions, which were announced in mid-August by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Hochul on Tuesday described the results of the first phase of the effort that required shots of workers in hospitals and nursing homes by Sept. 27 as imperfect but successful.

“It was not an easy decision because a lot of people’s lives are affected, but I have to speak clear-eyed and laser focused on the priorities that I must have as the governor of this state,” she said during a press briefing.