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Health care workers must be vaccinated by Monday or lose their jobs

According to the state, Erie County has 81% of hospital workers vaccinated. In Niagara County, it's 80%. The average for all five counties in WNY is 81%.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in August that by September 27, those working at health care facilities must be vaccinated or they can no longer work there. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul has stood by this even after she took over. 

"Every single person who ends up in your care has the right to know that there is safe as they can be," Hochul said. 

However, not everyone who works in health care is actually interacting with patients or even in the office. 

Take Raelyn LeRoy who was an IT worker at a hospice facility in Buffalo for example. She works from home, but on Monday, she's unemployed. 

"It doesn't really make sense to me at all because I don't see patients, and it's very seldom I even see an employee," LeRoy said. 

Here's what the NYS Department of Health says health care companies must follow under the mandate: 

  • The DOH-licensed entities subject to this emergency regulation, which states: (2) “Personnel,” for the purposes of this section, shall mean all persons employed or affiliated with a covered entity, whether paid or unpaid, including but not limited to employees, members of the medical and nursing staff, contract staff, students, and volunteers, who engage in activities such that if they were infected with COVID-19, they could potentially expose other covered personnel, patients or residents to the disease.
  • It is up to covered entities to develop a plan for implementation of the mandate and what happens if employees do not comply. Their plans could include termination.
  • The regulation continues to require nursing home and hospital personnel to receive the first dose of vaccine by September 27, and requires personnel of additional covered entities listed in the regulation to receive a first dose by October 7.

Erie County Medical Center has to say goodbye to about 10% of its staff about 400 workers. 2 On Your Side hasn't heard back from the hospital on how many of those are with patients.

As of Tuesday, Oishei Children's Hospital was the only hospital in Western New York to have 100% of its staff vaccinated. 

According to the state, Erie County has 81% of hospital workers vaccinated.

In Niagara County, it's 80%. 

"It's a moral thing to be concerned about what you may be passing on to your neighbor or even to your children and we can't manage morality. The only thing we can do is make recommendations and suggestions. I'm glad the governor made that suggestion," NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said. 

Yet some nurses are worried this mandate will severely impact the state's healthcare system immediately. 

"Starting on Monday, you're going to see lines out the doors of emergency rooms and we already have lines out the doors in emergency rooms. Patients are not getting the care that they need and now, it's going to be even worse," said Tesslynn Ackley, a former nurse at the University of Rochester. 

Hochul says if not enough people get vaccinated by Monday, she will be announcing a 'series of initiatives' to help health facilities out. 

She's hoping it won't have to come to that. 

"It does not have to happen my friends. it does not have to happen. What is looming for Monday is completely avoidable," Hochul said. "There's no excuses."

For a full breakdown of vaccination rates among healthcare workers by county and hospital, click here.

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