The deadline for New York City to enforce new laws mandating school vaccinations and a mandatory vaccination clinic for city workers is less than a week away, with expected labor shortages and work disruptions looming, government officials and leaders of vaccine organizations said.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has set Oct. 15 as the deadline for making schools and clinics fully compliant with the laws, according to the department’s website. The 2017-18 school year will begin Oct. 15, and the clinics are scheduled to be open through June. Last year, some 8,600 children were enrolled in city schools following this year’s vaccination clinics.
The department did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2018 budget designated the cost of the new law — also known as the Family Vaccination Pilot Program — at about $38 million, in addition to about $30 million in city and state funds. However, while there was some resistance, community and religious groups largely signed on to the law, which bans parents from pulling their children from school for non-medical reasons.
The health department also set up checkpoints for parents and guardians who want to file children out of the clinics if they fail to provide proof of vaccinations.
In the past, public health officials said they experienced a spike in the number of people showing up at the clinics after the first day of the clinics, but then came a decline. This week, the mayor said that the number of individuals with non-medical exemptions remained flat across the city, the New York Daily News reported.
The Department of Health also said it held an enrollment drive to urge employers to take advantage of a worker vaccination requirement. The agency has said the program is set to cost the city an estimated $1.1 million annually in wage and medical benefits to healthy workers who miss work for vaccine clinics.
De Blasio, who was at the World Health Organization on Friday to make a broader, global statement about vaccinations, said the city would continue to fight misinformation and outmoded attitudes about vaccinations.
“Most Americans understand that vaccines have saved our children,” he said. “It’s important that the city and the country promote safe and effective vaccine that doctors can administer efficiently in public places.”
The city has promoted the clinic program by noting the number of school and daycare workers who fall under the mandate, saying it could have an impact on issues such as the city’s rising infant mortality rate.