Roughly 3,000 teachers, firefighters and other New York City workers face losing their jobs Friday after failing to get vaccinated against coronavirus by the city’s deadline.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he would not change the rules, despite the city facing many days of protests since his predecessor announced the policy last year.
More than 95% of staff have complied.
Opponents say the requirements violate their freedom.
More protests are planned for Friday and opponents have filed numerous legal challenges, arguing, for example, that the rules violate protections against the free practice of religion.
But though the US Supreme Court last month struck down a national policy requiring vaccination or weekly tests for staff of large businesses, it has declined to take a stance against more localised requirements.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams told a news conference it was not that the city was firing employees, but that “people are quitting”.
Many of the unvaccinated have been on unpaid leave since the mandate went into effect last autumn.
New York City – the epicentre of the pandemic when it first struck in 2020 – is not alone among US cities in insisting that public employees get the jabs, which experts say is the safest way to protect against infection.
San Francisco, Boston and Chicago are among the cities and states that have implemented similar rules, which typically allow staff to seek exemptions.
Many health workers also face the mandates as a result of state or national rules, while some large employers have also moved forward with mandates.
More than 85% of adults in New York City are fully vaccinated – compared to about 75% nationally – and more than half of eligible children.
But there are pockets of resistance. Roughly 13,000 people applied for exemptions from New York City’s rules. The city has processed about half of those requests.
3,000 NYC staff face lost jobs over vaccine rules – BBC News3,000 NYC staff face lost jobs over vaccine rules – BBC News