NEW YORK — Maria Giannakoulis is not vaccinated and says she does not plan on getting a shot before the city’s mandated deadline.
What You Need To Know
- A judge panel has dissolved a temporary hold that was placed on the city's COVID vaccine mandate for public school employees
- Mayor Bill de Blasio says that public school staff must be vaccinated by Friday at 5 p.m.
- If not, unvaccinated employees must stay home and exhaust their vacation time then forgo their pay
“I will not have a job after Friday,” she said.
She has been a school psychologist with the Department of Education for the last 14 years, but because of her resistance, she says this is her final week walking into work at P.S. 84 in Queens.
“I feel very strongly about it. I don’t think it is a one-size-fits-all vaccine. There are personal reasons why I cannot take the vaccine. I can’t find a doctor to write me a letter,” explained Giannakoulis.
She says she is disappointed the courts sided with the city upholding the mandate that all Department of Education employees get vaccinated. Now, she says her family will have to get by on her husband's income alone, but she worries about her students too.
“I feel really terrible leaving my school,” said Giannakoulis. “Leaving all these students without the services that they are gonna need, and we already have a shortage, so I don’t know what is going to happen. I am hoping for a change, hoping for a miracle."
The United Federation of Teachers union has warned the mandate could result in staff shortages, but Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city will have substitutes and other employees ready to replace those who do not comply.
Giannakoulis says it is not fair that other city employees can take COVID tests instead of getting vaccinated, while DOE employee cannot. She had a message for the mayor.
“You cannot tell me what to put in my body," she said. "You should treat all the unions the same way, I don’t know why you're discriminating against the UFT. It is really unfair."
Giannakoulis says some of her colleagues who are too afraid to lose their job will now get the shot.
She says she will not be bullied into getting the vaccine, even if it means she won’t have a job come Monday morning.
“So this is the thanks I get for 14 years," Giannakoulis said.