New York state employers should require all of their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the New York State Bar Association announced in a report on vaccination and public health. 

At the same time, the bar association is backing efforts to have all teachers and school personnel vaccinated in New York. Gov. Kathy Hochul has called for a vaccine mandate for education workers in schools, or have those workers be tested weekly for the virus. 

The position comes as the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has upended some businesses' plans to fully return to the office after Labor Day.  

The report from the bar association, however, maintains exemptions to mandates for legitimate medical reasons or religious concerns. 

“Make no mistake about it, the pandemic is not yet over in New York or elsewhere,” said T. Andrew Brown, president of the New York State Bar Association. “To safeguard public health, we must do everything within our legal powers to make sure everyone gets vaccinated. The science and the law are on our side in this effort, in which we must take action to safeguard the largest number of people possible and cannot be held hostage to the opposition of an outspoken minority.”

As of Monday, 58.4% of New Yorkers have completed the vaccination series for COVID-19. The state has seen a wave of hospitalizations this summer; a Department of Health report has found vaccinations are 95% effective against becoming seriously ill and hospitalized due to COVID-19. 

At the moment, children younger than 12 do not qualify for the vaccine. The bar association's task force on vaccinations recommended students that are eligible receive the vaccination in order to register for and attend middle or high school, as well as college. 

“This is an important step the New York State Bar Association has taken to address the threat to the public’s health in the rapidly-changing pandemic environment and the issues of equity and vaccine access,” said Dr. Mary Beth Morrissey, chair of the task force and a public health law attorney, research fellow at Fordham University’s Global Health Care Innovation Management Center and a faculty member in the graduate schools.