Union protests NewYork-Presbyterian vaccine requirement

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Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East protested July 22 over New York City-based NewYork-Presbyterian's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees, according to local news station ABC7

The health system is requiring that employees, physicians, students, clinical rotators, volunteers and vendors receive at least one shot by Sept. 1, or obtain a valid exemption for medical, pregnancy or religious reasons. Workers seeking an exemption must apply for one by Aug. 1.

A union spokesperson told Becker's the union president, George Gresham, has been vaccinated and has urged all members to get vaccinated, but the union opposes a mandate. 

"We believe that our members are best equipped to make the healthcare decisions that are right for their bodies and for their families,"  union Communications Director Cara Noel told ABC7. "We have been promoting vaccination, but to make vaccination a condition of employment is absolutely wrong."

NewYork-Presbyterian issued a statement reiterating the importance of getting vaccinated.

"Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most important and responsible action we can take as caregivers and team members for the safety and well-being of our patients and visitors, our communities and ourselves," the health system said. "The rise of the delta variant is a reminder that the pandemic is not over, and we must remain vigilant."

The health system said it is focused on vaccinating as many workers as possible.

"We have heard from our employees who have questions about being vaccinated, and we are listening to their concerns as we provide support and education. NewYork-Presbyterian will continue to provide forums, educational materials and other resources to address those concerns."

The union represents about 11,000 workers at all NewYork-Presbyterian sites. 

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