Health care workers in New York state will now be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination booster, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday.
The new mandate, the first of its kind in the country, will not have a testing option, and will allow medical exemptions, but not religious exemptions. Health care workers will be required to get a booster shot within two weeks of becoming eligible for it.
Hochul framed the new requirement as a measure to help prevent breakthrough infections, as case numbers continue to rise, with state health officials predicting cases to peak next week.
"You would want to make sure that anyone taking care of you is fully protected," Hochul said at a news conference.
Hochul also announced that visitors to nursing homes would need to wear surgical-quality masks for their visit, and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test from within 24 hours of the visit.
Statewide, New Yorkers have received nearly 4.9 million booster doses, and 97% of hospital workers have completed a vaccination series, according to state data.
Hochul said she expected widespread cooperation with the new mandate, given the high rate of vaccination among health care staff.