Northwell Waiting on FDA Approval to Require Vaccinations

Many organizations are debating whether or not to mandate vaccines with only Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Northwell, New York City’s largest healthcare provider, is not mandating vaccines for its employees but may reconsider its current COVID-19 vaccination policy when the FDA issues a full approval of the vaccine. The FDA is likely to approve Pfizer’s COVID vaccine application first. The agency granted priority review status to Pfizer on July 16, 2021. The review process is expected to take six months. The FDA’s full approval for Moderna’s COVID vaccine is likely to come several months after Pfizer’s full approval. 

While Northwell does not now mandate that current employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, it is mandating vaccinations for new hires. In addition, in late July, Northwell stated it plans to launch a requirement that unvaccinated team members receive regular COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. PCR tests are a reliable tool to diagnose for COVID-19.

“We (have) been successful in getting 77 percent of our workforce vaccinated. We (are continuing) to expand our vaccination program. We are welcoming back volunteers in our hospitals, provided they are vaccinated. We are also launching a new requirement for students to be vaccinated,” said Margarita Oksenkrug, director of public relations for Northwell.

Starting September 13, New York City will require all city workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or undergo weekly tests. The city also made an official call to the private sector to enact a vaccine or test mandate at all offices, workplaces, and facilities. The effective date is also the first day of school for all K-12 New York City Department of Education public schools. The requirement applies to police officers, firefighters, teachers, and some contracted employees. 

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