On Monday, New York City mayor Eric Adams announced that as of February 10, public employees would no longer be subject to the controversial vaccine mandate.
Nearly 2,000 people who were fired for refusing to get the jab will now be eligible to work again, however, the city made it clear that they would not be automatically reinstated, and would need to apply via the normal hiring processes.
"City workers stepped up tremendously throughout the pandemic," Adams said. "From our healthcare frontline workers and first responders who saved lives, to the city employees who kept our streets clean, our schools open, and our streets safe, we owe city workers a debt of gratitude for their service during New York City’s darkest days."
Adams went on to explain that, "with more than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary COVID-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision."
"It's clear these mandates saved lives and were absolutely necessary to meet the moment," added NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. "We're grateful that we can now, as we leave the emergency phase of the pandemic, modify more of the rules that have gotten us to this point."
Vasan thanked New Yorkers who "made the necessary sacrifices to keep our city safe," but failed to mention those who sacrificed their jobs in the name of medical autonomy.
The vaccine mandate was introduced in November 2021 by former mayor Bill de Blasio, and impacted hundreds of thousands of public employees across the city.
In the months that followed, the city government was criticized over its treatment of those who sought exemptions.
"I would love to go back to my job," former FDNY captain Brendan Fogarty said during a city council meeting. "I gave my best years to this city, and ... went from being essential to being disposable from the mandates."
Fogarty, who retired to avoid having to get vaccinated, went on to suggest that those who pushed the policies, including current NYC mayor Eric Adams, would be "on the wrong side of history."
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