NEW YORK (WBEN/1010 WINS/WCBS 880) -- New York state will drop its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers that was implemented in 2021, officials said this week.
In a statement late Wednesday, the state Department of Health said the mandate was "critical" to New York's pandemic response but will not be enforced going forward.
"Due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations, the New York State Department of Health has begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers at regulated health care facilities," the department said.
"Throughout the public health emergency, this vaccine requirement served as a critical public health tool, helping to protect both health care workers and the patients under their care," the statement continued.
A repeal of the regulation is awaiting consideration for approval by the Public Health and Health Planning Council, but in the meantime the health department said it will "not commence any new enforcement actions."
However, facilities can still "implement their own internal policies regarding COVID-19 vaccination," the department said.
The vaccine mandate for health care workers was enacted in August 2021 and survived a Supreme Court challenge by doctors and nurses who objected to its lack of a religious exemption.
About 10,555 health workers were fired statewide for not getting vaccinated. They were part of about 34,000 health workers in the state who either retired, resigned, were furloughed or were fired after the mandate was issued, according to the Poynter Institute.
This past February, the state dropped its masking requirements for staff and visitors of hospitals and other health care facilities in the state.
While COVID-19 is still a global pandemic, the disease is no longer considered the public health emergency that it was when vaccine mandates were widely issued in 2021.