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New York State expands healthcare worker vaccine mandate

Staffers who work with individuals with mental health issues and developmental disabilities will be required to show proof of at least one COVID vaccine by Nov. 1.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Governor Kathy Hochul is buckling down when it comes to COVID-19 transmission rates here in New York State.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the governor announced a new vaccine mandate for healthcare workers who work in facilities that treat individuals with mental health issues and developmental disabilities. Under this new mandate, staff working in these settings will be required to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID vaccine by November 1.

There's no test-out option. 

"We all know the answer to give is getting people vaccinated and that's exactly what we're going to continue focusing on," Governor Hochul says.

Until then, staffers working in those settings that are still unvaccinated will have to submit weekly testing results starting October 12.

"We know vaccine mandates work," Hochul says. "Not my favorite thing to do, but sometimes it's necessary."

According to a spokesperson for the state, this applies to anyone working in OMH (Office of Mental Health) and/or state-run psychiatric hospitals as well as anyone who works for the OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilities) Certified Specialty Hospital in New York City. 

"We feel confident that this is the approach that has worked, give people enough notice, they can be fully compliant," Hochul continues. "I just have to be clear-eyed and laser focused on the priorities that I must have as the governor of this state and that is to protect people's health."

In addition to this latest vaccine mandate, Governor Hochul says reinstating another state-wide mask mandate is not off the table in the future.