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NYC to Expand COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates to Children

December 6, 2021 by Brock Blasdell
NYC to Expand COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates to Children
Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks ahead of the first COVID-19 vaccinations at NYU-Langone Hospital on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that, in an effort to combat the omicron variant, children aged 5-11 will soon be required to present proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccination before they can enter any private indoor business within New York City. 

The new requirement, which starts Dec. 14, will act as an expansion to the Key to NYC vaccination program, which began enforcement in September and required anyone over the age of 12 to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before they could enter most indoor businesses. 

“New York City will not give a single inch in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe,” said de Blasio in a statement to the press.

In addition to requiring at least one vaccination for children aged 5-11, the program will now also expand vaccine requirements to full vaccination for anyone over the age of 12 starting Dec. 27. 

“Vaccination is the best tool we have to keep New Yorkers healthy and ensure a robust economic recovery for all. These important measures will help to broaden the coverage of the vaccines even further,” said Vicki Been, the deputy mayor for New York City’s Department of Housing and Economic Development.

Acceptable proof of vaccination includes a printed vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the digitized New York State Excelsior Pass and employee-centered CLEAR Health Pass, and the NYC COVID Safe app.

The addition of young children to the Key to NYC program comes just one month after a similar vaccination mandate on all city officials and employees by de Blasio, and a CDC recommendation for the vaccination of children within the same age range.

Enforcing the near-total vaccination mandate means New York City officials will have to work directly with businesses — some of which may not be compliant. 

“We’re going to work with the business community. We’ve seen a lot of cooperation so far,” de Blasio said during the announcement. “There were a few times where we had to penalize people, but it was rare.”

Mayor de Blasio also encouraged other mayors, governors and private business leaders across the nation to “use these vaccine mandates” to force employees to get vaccinated. 

“The more universal they are, the more likely employees will say, ‘Okay, it’s time. I’m going to do this,’” de Blasio said during the announcement. “Because you can’t jump from one industry to another, or one company to another.

“It’s something that needs to be universal to protect all of us,” he continued. 

The city has advertised citizens call 311 and provide information about any business that may not be following the new vaccine mandates. 

As of Dec. 6, the CDC has reported 49,002,475 cases of COVID-19 within the United States — the highest globally. Additionally, 2.1% of children within the United States have received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccination.

Despite this measure being taken to combat the omicron variant, the CDC states that the delta variant continues to be the main strain of concern to the United States

NYC businesses that will be required to check the vaccination status of children:

  • Indoor dining: Includes restaurants, catering halls, hotel banquet rooms, bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, grocery stores with indoor dining and other indoor dining spaces.
  • Indoor fitness: Includes gyms, fitness centers, fitness classes, pools, dance studios and other indoor fitness studios, such as yoga or Pilates.
  • Indoor entertainment and meeting spaces: Includes movie theaters, music and concert venues, museums, aquariums and zoos, professional sports arenas, indoor stadiums, convention centers, exhibition halls, hotel meeting and event spaces, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, pool and billiard halls, recreational game centers, adult entertainment and indoor play areas.

Brock can be reached at [email protected]

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