More than 500 officers with the already depleted city Department of Corrections are still refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and remain on unpaid leave.
New data released by the city shows 17% of DOC uniform officers had yet to receive at least one jab as of Thursday night – two days after a deadline imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked in requiring proof of inoculation for them to continue working.
Most city workers had until Oct. 29 to get vaccinated or be placed on unpaid leave until they provide proof of vaccination. However, de Blasio gave uniformed correction officers extra time — until Dec. 1 — to receive their first jab, because of the ongoing staffing shortage at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex.
Although the DOC’s 83% vaccination rate is the lowest of any city agency, the DOC has seen its rate rise significantly from 46% when de Blasio’s October mandate went into effect, and 77% when the correction officer deadline recently kicked in.
Another 9% of DOC uniformed staff who have applied for medical or religious exemptions are continuing to report to work as the city reviews their cases, meaning 92% of the uniformed workforce is active.
Councilman Keith Powers (D-Manhattan), who chairs the criminal justice committee that oversees city jails, said the mandates are working, adding “we still have work to do, but the current numbers present progress.”
The mayor gave the DOC permission to assign 12-hour shifts and “any other measures necessary to address the current staffing shortage” earlier this week as the agency prepared for an employee shortage.
“We’re going to be able to have different shifts, different strategies but for the immediate term, we’re taking precautions to make sure the work gets done,” de Blasio said of the executive order.