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EAST ELMHURST, Queens — After New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for jail staffers went into effect earlier this week, the vaccination rate for uniform jail officers rose to 83% — an increase of over 30% from October’s numbers.

JustLeadershipUSA CEO Deanna Hoskins said she believes the mandate was the right step to protect both officers and inmates.

She said officers and immates are people who “can’t social distance … [and] are at the mercy of people coming in and out of the facility.”

Dr. Lipi Roy, who previously treated patients on Rikers Island, told PIX11 News on Friday that it was “just a matter of time” before the omicron variant made its way to the island.

Despite the increase in officer vaccinations, the Department of Correction told PIX11 News that hundreds of uniform officers remain at risk of being placed on leave without pay if they show up for work without a vaccine card.

To keep Rikers Island running, officers are now working 12 hour shifts. 

Department of Corrections Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said the longer shifts will “bump up the number of staff we have available to us.”

“We hope to keep that temporary until we get enough people vaccinated and enough people come back to work,” he said.