Aug. 23 (UPI) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that nearly 150,000 workers in the city’s public school system must receive the COVID-19 vaccine, removing a prior option that allowed unvaccinated employees to instead submit to weekly testing.
The mandate says all public school employees in the city must have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27.
The change came shortly after the Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued full approval to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, a regulatory step that allows businesses and other entities to require vaccination.
“We know this is going to help,” de Blasio said at a news conference Monday. “I spoke to the leaders of the key unions over the last few days as we’re going to start bargaining with them immediately on the impact of this decision and how to ensure we can implement it properly and fairly.”
City education Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said the mandate will provide “another layer of protection” for children. She noted that at least 63% of school employees are vaccinated and other safety protocols have improved ventilation.
New York City will open its public schools to more than 1 million children next month.
Previously, the city said teachers, like other city employees, would have to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Monday’s mandate removes the latter option.
Last week, the city began requiring proof of vaccination to enter gyms, restaurants and other public spaces.