New York on Monday became the first state to require all health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The deadline seems to have convinced thousands of holdouts to get last-minute shots.
As of Monday, 92 percent of New York's more than 650,000 hospital and nursing home employees have gotten at least one shot, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul's (D) office. Last week, 82 percent of nursing home workers and 84 percent of hospital personnel had gotten at least their first dose, and when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the mandate on Aug. 16, 70 percent of nursing home health workers and 77 percent of hospital staff were vaccinated.
"At the same time, at least eight lawsuits and several angry protests against mandates in New York served as a reminder that thousands of health care workers would likely resign or choose to be fired rather than get vaccinated," The New York Times reports. Thanks to one federal lawsuit, health workers statewide who applied for as-yet-nonexistent religious exemptions have until Oct. 12 to get vaccinated.
Vaccine mandates at other hospitals around the U.S. are proving similarly effective. Henry Ford Health System in Detroit raised its vaccination rate to 98 percent with its mandate, and Houston Methodist Hospital got all but about 153 now-fired workers, out of 25,000 employees, to get inculcated. In North Carolina, Novant Health said Monday that more than 99 percent of the system's roughly 35,000 workers have complied with its vaccine mandates, while another roughly 175 unvaccinated workers were pushed out.
"We're seeing in a lot of places that this is working, it's effective," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, backing President Biden's looming requirement that companies with 100 or more workers get everyone vaccinated or regularly tested.
Polls show that solid majorities of Americans support Biden's vaccine requirements, even as many GOP base voters strongly oppose them, NPR News reports. Republican pollster Frank Luntz said in his focus groups of vaccine resisters and mandates, "it was plain to see they were mad about it, but a significant percentage of those who are not vaccinated would actually accept it if it meant that they could travel, if it meant that they could continue to work in the office." As for the rest, he said, "nothing is going to change their mind."