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Judge Lifts Temporary Pause On Vaccine Mandate For NYC Teachers, Who Now Must Be Vaccinated By Monday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A judge has lifted a temporary pause on New York City's vaccine mandate.

That means all teachers must be vaccinated by Monday, or lose their jobs.

A separate decision on a state mandate for health care workers has been delayed.

City officials and union representatives debated the issue Wednesday in court.

Web Extra: Read the judge's decision (.pdf)

As CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reports, city officials and union reps filed into 80 Center Street to hash out a decision on vaccine mandates.

More than a month ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio said all teachers must get the shot by Sept. 27 or lose their jobs. The state said the same for health care workers.

"When we had the COVID outbreak it was very, very scary, even for us the health care workers. So I think people should be vaccinated," health care worker Marita Edet said.

But many disagreed. Seventeen health care workers filed lawsuits and several municipal unions sued the city, saying the mandate violates constitutional rights and that it shouldn't be a condition of employment.

"I think it's not right that they demand that. It's freedom of speech. It's freedom of religion. It should be freedom of choice," said Caroline Dipilato, who works in a school.


In separate court rulings, judges temporarily halted the mandatory vaccines until Wednesday. But on Wednesday, one court ruled in de Blasio's favor, making it mandatory for teachers.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan reports, Manhattan Judge Lawrence Love ruled "state and federal courts have consistently held that a mandatory vaccine requirement does not violate substantive due process rights" and challenges from a coalition of public sector unions that filed a lawsuit "will be unable to establish a likelihood of ultimate success on the merits" of their case.

"Everyone understands what happens if you're not vaccinated in time, what the penalties are. I don't expect a lot of people want to experience those penalties," de Blasio said.

There have also been staffing concerns if employees refuse to get at least one shot by the deadline - Monday.

But Gov. Kathy Hochul said hospitals have emergency plans in place, and de Blasio says there will be no shortage of teachers.

"We have a huge corps of vaccinated substitutes ready to move in," de Blasio said.

Watch Natalie Duddridge's report -- 

The United Federation of Teachers says while it believes its members should get the vaccine, it should not be a condition of employment.

"I think there are probably alternatives for that if they can get tested consistently," one person said.

"There should be a happy medium. I know that there has been often testing. Weekly testing, I think, is a way that you could get around this and ensure everyone's safety," another person said.


The city says latest numbers show 87% of teachers are already vaccinated along with 80% of all Department of Education workers, but there have been staffing concerns if employees refuse to get the shot -- not having enough teachers or substitute teachers, or health care staff in hospitals.

The city has allowed religious and medical exemptions for school staff, but the mayor says there have been very few requests. Only medical exemptions are approved for health workers.

The state is still debating religious exemptions - that decision is expected Oct. 12.

This is not the final ruling on vaccines, as the unions will still have an opportunity to challenge the decision.

CBS2's John Dias and Dick Brennan contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story first appeared on September 22, 2021.

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