New York Gov. Kathy Hochul could tap the National Guard to replace thousands of health care workers that will miss the state deadline to become fully vaccinated.
"I am monitoring the staffing situation closely, and we have a plan to increase our health care workforce and help alleviate the burdens on our hospitals and other health care facilities," Hochul said in a statement Saturday.
New York's vaccine mandate for health care workers takes effect Monday.
One option includes calling in officers from the National Guard that have medical training to plug the gaps that will be left by the workers who miss Monday's deadline.
About 16% of New York's 450,000 hospital employees, or 72,000 people, have not been fully vaccinated, leaving some concerned that action needs to be taken to avoid shortages.
"We’re roughly about 84% statewide vaccinated right now, so any initiatives that the governor could advance to increase the workforce is welcome and needed," said New York State Health Facilities Association President Stephen Hanse.
At a Sunday church service in New York City, Hochul called on the state's Christians to help encourage people to get vaccinated.
"I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, 'We owe this to each other,'" Hochul said at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. "Jesus taught us to love one another, and how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, ‘Please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live.’"
Hochul's state of emergency order will also allow health care workers who are licensed in other states the ability to work in New York. The state will also be looking for ways to expedite visa applications for medical workers.
Health care workers that are fired due to noncompliance with the vaccine mandate will not be eligible for unemployment benefits, though there are some exceptions for those who can provide a doctor-approved medical accommodation.