Vaccine requirements for N.Y. leaders may change

The New York State Capitol in Albany. File photo

ALBANY — Legislative leaders will discuss COVID-19 vaccine protocols for the upcoming 2022 legislative session and the test-out option for members in both chambers, officials said.

The state Senate and Assembly each separately implemented rules late this summer requiring all lawmakers, staffers or members of each chamber’s workforce to have at least one COVID vaccine dose, or provide weekly negative coronavirus tests.

The test-out option could be amended, or removed, before session resumes in January.

“We are discussing the coming session and encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” Mike Whyland, spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, said in a statement.

The protocols will need to be updated, or clarified, as potential nominees declare their candidacy for the 2022 legislative races.

Officials did not respond to questions about amending the coronavirus vaccine requirement for staffers and removing the test-out option, similar to New York’s vaccine requirement for health workers and other state personnel, or about when leaders will make a decision.

Heastie, D-Bronx, announced the requirement for legislative employees in the lower house July 28.

“The recent spike in the COVID-19 pandemic shows that we still have more work to do in order to overcome this terrible health crisis,” Heastie said at the time. “In order to ensure the safety of the public and our employees, and consistent with CDC and state guidance, the Assembly will be requiring vaccinations or regular testing for those not vaccinated.”

Members of the Assembly or Senate workforce were required to upload documentation to verify their COVID vaccination status or recent test results starting in mid-September.

Test results remain valid for seven days.

The Senate announced the details of its COVID-19 vaccination and test-out protocols Sept. 2.

“Each house is responsible for establishing their own policies,” Senate Democrats spokesperson Jonathan Heppner said in a statement.

At least 85.2% of New York adults ages 18 and older have received at least one COVID vaccine dose. About 77.8% of adults are fully vaccinated against the fatal upper respiratory disease.

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