Can New York State mandate nursing home staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — Local leaders in Central New York have voiced concerns about nursing home staff not being vaccinated against the coronavirus. In Onondaga County, only about 50% of nursing home staff opted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

So can New York State force them to get it? Well, the short answer is no.

In a call with reporters, Governor Andrew Cuomo said there are legal issues when it comes to mandating a vaccine that has been authorized for use with emergency approval. He also said it gets complicated with nursing homes because those individuals were not included in a clinical trial.

Cuomo says he doesn’t believe that the state will need to explore this option on any level, because he believes staff will opt in to get the vaccine.

The state says its working hard to dispel misinformation and letting people know this is safe and effective.

A spokesperson for Loretto, one of Central New York’s largest nursing facilities, says right now 40% to 50% of their staff received the vaccine.

“I think it’s not unlike what you’re hearing all over the place. People are still questioning that it’s new, it’s uncertain. They’re unsure if they should do it. They want to see what happens when somebody else gets vaccinated first. And I think what we are seeing is that as our staff have been vaccinated and they’ve had no or little side effects, people are more optimistic,” said Julie Sheedy, Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer at Loretto.

Sheedy said they’re getting more interest from staff members now but those are worried about the supply of the vaccine.

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday, the government is buying an extra 100 million doses of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for a total of 600 million doses. But there are no details yet on how that will impact New York.

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