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FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19: NYC MANDATES VACCINES

We would hope that by now this pandemic would subside especially since the arrival of the vaccine. Unfortunately, even though most of us are mentally and physically exhausted the pandemic shows no sign of stopping.

The nation is now dealing with a new variant referred to as the Delta variant. Alongside the recommendation to wear masks indoors and outdoors in public regardless of one’s vaccination status, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have begun to place a significant focus on vaccinations for city workers as well as the general public. At the most basic level, this means that eventually all NYC workers who work in places that are open for business will be required to get vaccinated in order to be able to work. In addition to this, Mayor de Blasio has stated that the general public will need to start showing proof of vaccination (at least one dose) in order to enjoy indoor dining, gyms, and performances starting on August 16th with complete enforcement beginning on September 13th. Those who work with the MTA and NY Port Authority will all have to show proof of vaccination or face weekly testing as stated by Governor Cuomo. In addition to all of this, newly hired city employees will automatically be required to get vaccinated without a testing option. No mandate has yet been enforced on private business but they are being encouraged to enforce vaccination requirements on their own workers. According to The New York Times, Mayor de Blasio said that there are some ways to show proof of vaccination: NYC Covid Safe (a new app  released by the city), the state’s Excelsior Pass, or your paper vaccination card/official vaccination record. 

Skeptics, mainly those who have yet to take the vaccine have questioned how helpful this new policy will actually be. They have cited the existence of the variants and the potential of further evolutions which they feel renders the vaccine invalid. However, Dr. John J. Dennehy, a Biology professor at Queens College, clarifies that it is uncertain whether “the requirements have much of an impact on the virus’s evolution.” In his view, the scope of the policies is not sufficiently broad; Dennehy noted that “Citywide only ~55% of the population is fully vaccinated, and NYC employees are only 4% of the City’s population.”

Of course, enforcing these requirements is possible but it won’t be easy as many eligible Americans are still choosing not to get the vaccine. These Americans fall into two major groups. The first rejects vaccines on principle; the second, the “wait-and-see” contingent, is open to vaccination but wishes to observe how it is received by the public. Because of this, Dennehy foresees “…a resurgence of cases in NYC this fall and winter and potentially virus evolution to overcome vaccine-induced and infection-induced immunity.”  

Here in New York City, public health officials alongside the city and state government have been offering plenty of incentives ( some of them financial) to persuade city workers and the general public to get the vaccine. For all vaccinated New Yorkers they can enjoy giveaways from Krispy Kreme, Shake Shack, and Crunch Gym. In addition to this, there is a program called NYC Vaccine Referral Bonus Program where community and faith-based organizations are awarded $100 for each person they refer who gets their first vaccine at a city-run site.

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