New York backs off enforcement of booster mandate after plea from hospitals

New York will not immediately begin enforcing the state's mandate requiring healthcare workers to receive COVID-19 booster shots, instead allowing more time for workers to comply. 

State enforcement of the booster requirement was scheduled to take effect Feb. 21. Now, the state will reassess in three months "whether additional steps need to be taken to increase booster rates among the healthcare workforce," the New York State Department of Health said in a Feb. 18 news release.

State officials said the additional time is to avoid potential staffing issues at healthcare facilities and give healthcare workers more time to receive their booster.

In a Feb. 15 letter, a statewide group representing 500 hospitals and systems, nursing homes, home care agencies, hospices, adult day programs and other continuing care providers asked Gov. Kathy Hochul for a 90-day delay in enforcing the booster deadline.

"With our healthcare workforce in crisis and burned-out staff leaving the field, the state must carefully consider the impact of its policies on the availability of staff, which directly impacts patient care," the Healthcare Association of New York State wrote in the letter, which was shared with Becker's. "Many of our members cannot sustain the additional loss of staff without affecting the availability of services in their communities." 

As of Feb. 18, 75 percent of the state's healthcare workforce either had received or said they were willing to receive a booster, according to the latest data reported to the state.  

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