June 13, 2024

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Health care workers aren’t quitting

As New York health care workers scrambled last week to meet that state’s mandatory COVID vaccination deadline, their counterparts in New Jersey also have faced pressure to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. 

Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order for New Jersey is less strict than New York’s: It has allowed frequent COVID testing as an option for those who chose not to get vaccinated by Sept. 7. But most hospital systems and many nursing homes have imposed their own “vaccinate-or-out” policies. Deadlines vary, with most over the next six weeks. 

The pressure is working.

Only a small percentage of health workers in New Jersey appear likely to lose their jobs because they refuse to get a COVID vaccine and have not obtained a religious or medical exemption. They’re getting vaccinated instead.

And many vaccine-hesitant employees who initially opted for testing have eventually chosen vaccination instead. New Jersey has about 650,000 health care workers, although those who work in private offices are not covered by the state mandate. 

A doctor who received one of the earliest COVID vaccines, on Dec. 18, 2020, at St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson. Physicians have the highest vaccination rates among health care workers.

More getting the vaccine

Bayada, a home health care agency with 6,500 New Jersey employees, has seen the number of those who opted for weekly testing drop by more than half — from 645 to 248 — since the Sept. 7 mandate. 

“Well over 300 said ‘Two times is enough’ to get swabbed, and got vaccinated,” said David Totaro, Bayada’s chief government affairs officer.