New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for teachers and staff members took effect on Monday, kicking off a key test of the employee vaccination mandates that are now being initiated across the country.

Big Apple’s mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the higher than average vaccination stats of school staffers on Monday morning. These included a vaccination rate of 95% of the city’s school staff, which is estimated to be around 148,000. At least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been given to 96% of teachers and 99% of principals.

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Mayor de Blasio also said boasted the vaccine mandate, which seemed to boost the stats for New York City even before the mandate was put in place. He said that after the vaccine requirements were announced on August 23, around 43,000 employees had taken the shot.

The mayor said, “Our parents need to know their kids will be safe”, according to reports from Associated Press. The statement added, “They entrust us with their children. That’s what this mandate is all about. Every adult in our schools is now vaccinated, and that’s going to be the rule going forward.”

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The vaccine mandate was also hailed by the United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who also joined a virtual briefing hosted by the New York mayor.

Cardona said in a statement, “You’re doing it right. Students need to be in the classroom. They need to be safe and we need to make sure we’re doing everything possible to let our staff get vaccinated and make sure that our schools are as safe as possible”, according to reports from Associated Press.

The vaccination mandate in the nation’s largest school system does not include a test-out option, but does allow for medical and religious exemptions. It was supposed to go into effect last week but was delayed when a federal appeals court granted a temporary injunction. An appeals panel reversed that decision three days later.  

(With AP inputs)