How the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate is Affecting Workforces

Brief Summary
  • A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the healthcare industry in New York resulted in 1,400 employees of Northwell Health being fired, as they wished not to get vaccinated.
  • Although receiving the vaccine is a choice, an increasing number of institutions are mandating the vaccine for their employees. Those who choose to remain unvaccinated will lose their jobs.
  • The vaccine requirement has caused an ultimatum for the unvaccinated–get the vaccine or find another job.

Since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in December 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many health care professionals have recommended becoming fully vaccinated, as they believe it is the most convenient and fastest way to deal with the pandemic. As a result, the White House has announced vaccine mandates for federal workers to accelerate this process. Furthermore, President Joe Biden has been in contact with the Department of Labor about the possibility of having companies in the private sector, exceeding 100 employees, mandate the vaccine. 


However, over the past couple of months, there have been rising concerns regarding the vaccine. The vaccine mandate being a requirement for most occupations has caused those who have chosen to stay unvaccinated to protest in the street, as they feel their freedom of choice is being taken away.


New York Mandates Vaccine for Nurses

In the public health care sector, some registered nurses have begun protesting the mandating of the vaccine. For example, Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider and private employer in the state of New York, recently let go of 1,400 employees as they refused to get vaccinated. 


Image credit: MSPhotographic


In New York, the vaccine mandate does not allow for weekly testing, and they do not allow exemptions. As these mandates do not allow for employees to freely decide if they wish to take the vaccine, they are forced with an ultimatum of get fired or get the vaccine.


A healthcare provider's primary duty is to care for patients. In a rationale of their mandate of the vaccine for healthcare workers, New York State stated that when healthcare employees are unvaccinated, they are at a higher risk of receiving and transmitting the virus. In addition, by aiding people who have vulnerable immune systems, being unvaccinated is an occupational safety and health hazard that could lead to higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths.


Teachers and School Staff Members Get Vaccinated

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a vaccine mandate for all school staff members. The mandate improved the vaccination rates, with 99% of principals, 96% of teachers, and 94% of non-education staff getting at least one dose. However, out of the 150,000 people mandated to get vaccinated, 8,000, or 5%, refused. Thus, they were placed on leave without pay until further notice.   


Some NBA Players Against Being Vaccinated

Like the nurses and teachers in New York, the NBA has mandated the vaccine to ensure that the players can play games without the risk of breakthrough infections. As most players want to end the pandemic, they had no hesitation with getting vaccinated and doing their part to make the arenas a safer place to be. However, some stars are reluctant to receive the vaccine. 


Andrew Wiggins

Golden State Warriors player Andrew Wiggins has been one of the vocal advocates for not receiving the vaccine. 


Each NBA season has 82 games, half of which are played in the team’s home arena, and the other half are played at the opposing teams’ arenas. As the Warriors preside in San Francisco, there is a mandate on indoor events stating that all participants must be vaccinated. If Wiggins were to remain unvaccinated, he would only be allowed to partake in away games. The lack of games played would result in him losing $15 million during the 2021-2022 season.


Wiggins reportedly received the first dose of the vaccine in early October 2021, but not by choice. In an interview with ESPN, he stated, “They [my family] know that I had to. It came down to get the vaccination or don't play basketball. I'm 26. I have two kids. I want more kids. I'm trying to do something that will generate as much money as I can for my kids and my future kids, [create] generational wealth. So, I took the gamble, took the risk, and hopefully, I'm good.” 


Kyrie Irving

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is another NBA player who the media have extensively covered due to his unwillingness to get vaccinated. There has been a lot of speculation regarding Kyrie's reasoning behind why he is not yet vaccinated. However, he has not disclosed the why behind this decision.



Editorial credit: Natursports / Shutterstock.com


Like Wiggins, Kyrie could potentially lose up to $17 million in the upcoming season if he does not get at least one vaccination shot. 


Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets has publicly stated that he wishes not to receive the vaccine. In an interview with The Denver Post, Porter said, “I had COVID twice, I saw how my body reacted, and although the chances are slim, with the vaccine you could have a bad reaction to it. For me, I don’t feel comfortable”.


Although 95% of NBA players are reportedly vaccinated, a select few continue to voice their concerns regarding the vaccine. However, with the mandate, receiving the vaccine is becoming less of their choice. Like the nurses in New York, the players must either receive it to continue playing in the NBA or be banned from playing the sport they love and impact their income.


Choosing to Refuse the Mandate

There are rules and bylaws at the workplace that one may not necessarily agree with but is required to oblige. Similarly, the vaccine mandates in the different industries ranging from healthcare to education to entertainment are required, but ultimately receiving the vaccine is still a choice. However, if an employee wishes to keep their job, they must follow the rules set by their employer or organization. 


Image credit: Ron Adar


The divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated will continue to affect the workforce, but many believe only in the short run. During a time period when finding employees is already difficult, some employers still feel strongly that no employee is irreplaceable, especially those who are not willing to follow the rules or mandates. For example, the bet or expectation is that recent graduates with degrees in nursing and certified substitutes in education will take the place of those who refuse to receive the vaccine, or those who refuse will change their minds due to the financial impact of being fired.



What are your thoughts on the vaccine mandate? How do you think the situation could be handled better? Let us know in the comments below. 

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