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NewsMurphy shies from strict vaccine mandate for NJ teachers...

Murphy shies from strict vaccine mandate for NJ teachers and public workers, unlike NYC

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Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that he has no immediate plans to issue a vaccine mandate to teachers and other public workers without the option of weekly testing — a different approach from New York City’s, where most unvaccinated city workers will soon be placed on unpaid leave.

“At the moment we like where we are but we don’t rule anything out,” Murphy said at a briefing.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that all city workers — including police and firefighters — would be required to have received at least one shot by Oct. 29 or be placed on indefinite leave with no pay.  

The policy is similar to one enacted by the city in September for all health care workers and school personnel. More than 43,000 doses have been administered to city school staff since the mandate was announced in late August, driving up the vaccinate rate to 95%.

Under de Blasio’s new mandate, city workers will not only keep their jobs but also receive an extra $500 in their paycheck if they receive their first dose by next week.

The threat of being fired has been a successful motivator to get some of New Jersey’s largest workforces vaccinated.

On Monday, two of the largest hospital networks in the state — RWJBarnabas Health and Virtua Health — announced that they had let go a combined 238 employees who did not get vaccinated by the organizations’ deadline last week. That represents less than 1% of their combined 50,000 workers. 

Kamala Harris visits NJ:VP pushes for child care funding, vaccinations and stops for cupcakes

But Murphy has been reluctant to impose a blanket vaccine mandate even to health care workers, who can opt-out if they agree to regular COVID testing, unless their employer requires vaccination unconditionally. New York requires all public and private health care workers to be vaccinated with no test option, or face termination. 

“We think we have in place the package that gets all the important considerations balanced in terms of vaccinations,” Murphy said at a briefing when asked about de Blasio’s new mandate. 

Election:Why New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says he deserves a second term in November

Murphy is seeking reelection to a second term on Nov. 2. De Blasio will be leaving office in January. 

In New Jersey, all pre-K to 12 public and private school personnel were required to be fully vaccinated by Monday or be subject to at least one COVID-19 test a week. The same policy took affect Monday for all 70,000 state government workers, including state police. 

State officials said they did not yet know how many state workers have been vaccinated when asked Wednesday.  Almost 5.8 million New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated. That represents 63% of the state’s 9.2 million residents – one of the highest rates in the U.S.

Murphy’s comments come as he announced an executive order on Wednesday that will require companies who want to do work for the state to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or be subject to regular weekly testing. This includes those seeking lucrative highway construction and repair contracts. 

Any worker who can show a medical or religious objection to vaccines can opt out of being vaccinated, under federal guidelines.

Scott Fallon has covered the COVID-19 pandemic since its onset in March 2020. To get unlimited access to the latest news about the pandemic’s impact on New Jersey,  please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @newsfallon 

Source: Asbury Park

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