By Alice Gainer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Health care workers in New York are now being required to get the COVID-19 booster.

Beginning Friday, most vaccination sites in New York City will have boosters for children 12 and older .

READ MORE: New Jersey Announces COVID Vaccine And Booster Mandate For Health Care Workers And High-Risk Settings

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports, under the new order health care workers are now required to get their shot within two weeks of becoming eligible for a booster.

“With no exemptions other than a medical exemption and no test out option,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “We’ve already seen what’s been happening in our healthcare environments – staff is getting sick they’re leaving. We need them to get well… They work with our most vulnerable new Yorkers.”

New York City’s Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi Tweeted that if you received the Pfizer vaccine, you only have to wait five months – not six – for your booster, and that most vaccination sites in New York City, including all city sites, will expand boosters for kids 12 and up.

Health officials say right now the rate of increase among children hospitalized is going up faster than adults.

Watch: Gov. Hochul Outlines New COVID Policies

“The vast majority of children who are hospitalized are unvaccinated,” said New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “It’s important to get your child vaccinated.”

When it comes to COVID-19 hospitalization numbers in New York City, health officials say half of those admitted are for COVID-19. The other half are coming to the hospital for other reasons but testing positive once they get there.

READ MORE: Biden Administration To Give Out 400 Million Free N95 Masks

COVID VACCINE

“Very, very rare to see somebody admitted who’s had a booster,” said President and CEO of New York Presbyterian Dr. Steven Corwin. “We’re about 20% higher than we were at this time last year, but much less in the way of cases in our ICUs, and much less cases that require ventilators.”

“The patients requiring the ICUs are older sicker and mainly unvaccinated,” he added.

More walk-in PCR testing sites are coming to the MTA next week, including:

  • 125th Street
  • Bedford Park Station
  • Queens Plaza Station
  • Coney Island/Stilwell Station

There are also new rules for nursing homes.

“When visitors do come in, that they have to wear a better mask, a surgical-type mask, and they have to have a negative COVID test within 24 hours,” Hochul said.

So when might we see cases drop?

“We think with our modeling that the peak will happen next week. We’ve seen some leveling the past couple of days,” Corwin said.

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Editor’s note: This story was first published Jan. 7.

Alice Gainer