NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City’s COVID vaccine mandate for municipal workers took effect Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said 91% of the city’s more than 300,000 employees are vaccinated. That leaves about 9,000 unvaccinated workers who were put on unpaid leave.

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About 12,000 unvaccinated people have applied for medical or religious exemptions. In the meantime, they are working and being tested.

By department, NYPD was at 85% vaccinated, Department of Sanitation was at 83% and FDNY reported 81%.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the mandate will not impact response times, but is causing short-staffing.

A firehouse typically has one to three units respond to fires, but several are down a unit because members won’t get vaccinated, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.

Uniformed Firefighter Association President Andrew Ansbro said some of the city’s bravest who are vaccinated didn’t necessarily do so by choice.

“This is not a way to run a public service — a life-saving public service — in such a haphazard way,” he said. “The ones that are there are going to do their best to fulfill their oaths and live up to what they promised the city of New York. Unfortunately, they’re put in this position by mayoral mandate.”


The union expects dozens of fire companies will shut down, but resources and vaccinated staff will be redistributed so no overall firehouses will have to close. Some may have to work 80 hours a week to make up for those absent.

“They’re not pointing the finger at the firefighter they work with that decided not to get the vaccine. Some of them didn’t want the vaccine either, but they had to comply because they couldn’t live without the paycheck,” Ansbro said.

FDNY unions are opening an emergency resource center inside the Stewart Hotel across from Penn Station for department personnel who are now on unpaid leave due to the vaccine mandate.

Union reps continue to ask the mayor to push back the mandate to December, as he did for the correction officers union due to the staffing crisis at Rikers Island.

“They have a well-known staffing problem and we have kind of an unknown staffing problem because our members have been willing to work longer hours and harder hours for the citizens of the City of New York, and now it’s actually being held against us,” Ansbro said. “If you don’t have enough people on the truck, the ladder, half the members find the fire and the victims, the other half facilitate letting heat and smoke out of the building, and also search for victims.”

Nigro said the unions had 10 months to get vaccinated. He said 18 units out of 350 citywide are now out of service.

“There are understaffed units. That understaffing could end immediately if members stopped going sick when they weren’t sick,” Nigro said.

Watch John Dias’ Report

Hundreds called out sick Monday morning, Nigro said, adding to more than 2,000 who are allegedly calling out in protest of the mandate.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said there is no effect on service as most of the 15% who are unvaccinated are still working while they wait to hear back on religious and medical exemptions.

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Garbage pickup is impacted. On 35th Street near Park Avenue, Monday garbage piled up. Residents told CBS2 it had not been picked up in a week.

“They should be doing their job” one man said.

“It’s piled very high. It’s dangerous because we can get rodents,” said one woman.

Workers protested Monday afternoon outside the Great Kills Garage on Staten Island.

Seventeen percent of sanitation employees citywide are not vaccinated. A spokesperson said those who are on the job will work Sundays and Election Day and there will be 12-hour shifts.

On Monday night, protestors in the New Springville section of Staten Island said they were standing with the thousands of city employees who are not allowed to go to work until they get the vaccine. Confrontations got tense at times, with the NYPD saying at least four people were arrested, as the demonstrators lined up against sanitation trucks, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.

“The only thing that matters is our freedom,” one protester said.

Meanwhile, another group gathered outside Carnegie Hall, where Vice President Kamala Harris was attending an event.

“It has been ratified by the courts. It’s time to do the right thing and get vaccinated,” de Blasio said.


The New York City Housing Authority is also facing a shortage, with 25% of workers tasked with cleaning developments unvaccinated. A spokesperson would not tell us how the agency plans to continue operations at full speed.

Maria Almonte showed CBS2 her apartment in the Lower East Side’s LaGuardia Houses. Almonte said mold is spreading in her bathroom and pipes are breaking her bedroom ceiling.

A neighbor translated, saying, “She says it has been really terrible living in this condition.”

Neither of them have had gas service in their public housing apartments since March.

“It takes so long to book an appointment due to like how many apartments and buildings need repairs,” the neighbor said.

They said NYCHA has been slow to make repairs in general, and fear the mandate will delay work even more.

“If this problem doesn’t get fixed, it’s not gonna go away. It’s just gonna get worse for residents and tenants who live here,” the neighbor said.

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CBS2’s Ali Bauman and John Dias contributed to this report.