NEW YORK — Thousands of New York City firefighters, NYPD officers and other city workers remained unvaccinated Friday night, several hours after the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all city employees went into effect, new data released on Saturday shows.
In total, 83% of city workers who were under Friday’s deadline were in compliance. The mayor’s office said 26,600 employees remained unvaccinated.
As of 8 p.m., 72% of FDNY members and 84% of NYPD personnel had received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine — a stark increase from the previous day when 67% of FDNY and 79% of NYPD were in compliance.
However, the fervent pushback against the vaccine requirement has prompted concerns over safety and quality of life issues as the city braces for fewer police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers come Monday.
Any city worker who cannot show proof of at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday will be placed on unpaid leave, according to the mayor’s office. There is no option for weekly COVID testing.
Among Department of Sanitation employees, only 77% of workers were vaccinated Friday night, which was up from 67% the day before but still a significant gap to fill in order to keep city streets free of garbage.
FDNY EMS compliance also remained relatively low, with 84% of workers having at least one shot by Friday night compared to 77% the day before.
The city agency with the lowest compliance rate was the Department of Correction, with just 54% of its workforce vaccinated on Friday night, according to the mayor’s office. Howeever, the agency was given an additional month to comply with the mandate due to low employment numbers and other issues plaguing the department.
And the effects of the mandate were already being felt this weekend.
An FDNY official said a group of firefighters organized a mass sick-out in protest over the mandate, which forced several fire companies to be temporarily placed out of service. No firehouses have closed entirely, the official said.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro called the protest unacceptable.
“The excessive sick leave by a group of our firefighters because of their anger at the vaccine mandate for all city employees is unacceptable, contrary to their oaths to serve, and may endanger the lives of New Yorkers. Despite these actions by some, the department will continue to respond to all calls for help that come our way,” Nigro said in a statement.
While workers in some city agencies have banded together in protest against the vaccine mandate, the new data also shows a vast majority of municipal workers were in compliance. According to the mayor’s office, 29 agencies had vaccination rates of 90% or higher by Friday night.
Still, the city has braced for an apparent worker shortage. Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday there were contingencies to maintain adequate staffing and public safety, including mandatory overtime and extra shifts — tools that he said were typically used “in times of challenging crisis.”
People who refuse to get vaccinated are now a big factor in the continued spread of the virus. Backers of mandates say New Yorkers have a right not to be infected by public servants unwilling to get the shots.
Mandates have gotten support in the court systems as well. On Friday, a federal appeals panel upheld New York state’s vaccine mandate for health care workers. De Blasio’s previous vaccine mandate for Department of Education employees has also held up against several legal challenges.
PIX11’s James Ford contributed to this report.