Covid-19 vaccine mandates take effect in New York and Los Angeles

US federal mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees to be formally published soon

A New York City firefighter paramedic receives a Covid-19 vaccination at the FDNY Fire Academy in New York. AP

The two largest US cities, New York City and Los Angeles, put into effect major Covid-19 vaccination mandates on Monday, while the US government says it will publish sweeping requirements for private businesses in the coming days.

New York City imposed a mandate for all of its municipal staff members to have had at least one vaccine dose by November 1, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said 91 per cent of the workforce met the requirement.

At least 9,000 people who were not vaccinated in time have been placed on unpaid leave and 12,000 have filed for exemption where they can stay on the job with weekly Covid-19 testing if their claims are approved.

This is only 6 per cent of the 378,000-member workforce, NBC New York reported.

“Come in, get vaccinated, come back to work because we need everyone to do their job and we need everyone to be safe,” Mr de Blasio said in a press conference on Monday.

“This mandate was the right thing to do.”

Preparations had been made to address possible staffing shortages while some police and fire departments protested the move.

Despite the challenges, vaccination rates increased in the days leading up to the November 1 deadline.

Mr de Blasio said emergency response times from fire, police and medical services have so far remained normal.

“This decision was made for the health and welfare of all New Yorkers,” he said “It's time to recognise this is the law. Get back to protecting the people of New York City.”

On the other side of the country, Los Angeles is facing fresh challenges to its city worker vaccine requirement — including lawsuits from police officers and firefighters.

As a result, the LA City Council pushed its deadline to December 18 for staffers to show proof of vaccination or face disciplinary action.

A Los Angeles mandate requiring that people show proof of full vaccination to enter indoor spaces and businesses is also set to begin early this November.

San Francisco has a similar mandate, while New York City allows one dose for entry.

President Joe Biden announced in September that he would require any private-sector company with 100 or more employees to impose Covid-19 vaccine mandates or have regular testing.

The Labour Department finished its regulatory review and will be formally publishing the rules within days. It remains unclear how the Biden administration will verify compliance.

Also on Monday, the White House told federal contractors, which are required to have their employees vaccinated, that they will have “flexibility” to meet a December 8 vaccination deadline.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention data show 79.9 per cent of US adults have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 69.9 per cent have been fully vaccinated, and US health officials — including Mr Biden in recent months — have credited mandates for a recent rise in vaccinations.

Covid-19 has killed about 750,000 people in the US.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 8:57 PM