New York City employees will no longer be required to receive a coronavirus vaccine, ending a policy that has been in place since October 2021, Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced on Monday.
“With more than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary COVID-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision,” Adams said in a statement. “I continue to urge every New Yorker to get vaccinated, get boosted, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19.”
Citing the high rate of vaccination among city staffers, Adams and other city officials touted the policy as a lifesaving measure that helped protect workers throughout the pandemic. The mandate shift is a major step in the city drawing back its coronavirus protections and is expected to be adopted at a Board of Health meeting this week.
“It’s clear these mandates saved lives and were absolutely necessary to meet the moment,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Ashwin Vasan in the statement. “We’re grateful that we can now, as we leave the emergency phase of the pandemic, modify more of the rules that have gotten us to this point.”
Officials also pointed to the broad vaccination of all city residents, noting that more than 80 percent of New Yorkers have recieved their initial two vaccinations.
The decision from Adams comes as the Biden administration is set to let the federal government’s public health emergency for COVID-19 expire in May, marking a new turn in the country’s fight against the disease.