Firefighters rally outside Mayor Bill De Blasio's residence, Gracie Mansion, to protest a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, Thursday, October 28, 2021, in New York.
CNN  — 

About 9,000 of New York City’s 378,000 municipal employees were on leave without pay as of Monday because they haven’t complied with a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, the mayor said Monday.

Members of the fire and police departments and other city workers had until 5 p.m. Friday to show proof they have received at least one vaccine dose or request an exemption; otherwise, they would be placed on unpaid leave. The same mandate was already in effect for city health care and education workers.

About 92% of the city’s employees have received at least one dose, including about 2,000 in the past 24 hours, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday morning.

The number of city employees on leave appears to be less than 3% of the municipal workforce. About 12,000 other employees, meanwhile, have applied for a religious or medical exemption, and can continue to work at least until their case is decided, de Blasio has said.

De Blasio said Monday the mandate has not resulted in service interruptions for the city police, fire and sanitation departments. However, hundreds of firefighters called in sick Monday as the vaccine mandate went into effect – and the city’s fire commissioner said he believed many called in sick to protest the mandate.

As for city police, about 85% of the department has had at least one shot as of Monday night, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told NY1 on Tuesday morning. That is up from 70% when the citywide vaccine mandate was announced October 20, de Blasio said.

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When the number of employees who have requested exemptions is factored in, the percentage of the department eligible to continue working is about 96% or 97%, Shea told NY1.

While the number of uniformed officers on unpaid leave rose from 34 on Monday to 89 on Tuesday, this will not have an impact on public safety, Shea said.

Those numbers are expected to fluctuate, because some people waited until the last minute to get vaccinated, and it takes time to update records, Shea told NY1.

Mayor vows consequences for firefighters if they skipped work to protest vaccine mandate

About 2,300 city firefighters have called in sick since the vaccine mandate went into effect, fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said at a news conference Monday.

Nigro said he believed many people calling in sick were protesting the vaccine mandate.

“If you’re sick, you’re sick, it’s a dangerous job. I get it. If you’re not sick, I want to see you back at work,” Nigro said.

Normally, 800-1,000 fire department employees call in sick on any given day, FDNY spokesperson Jim Long told CNN.

FDNY union leaders oppose the mandate but also have suggested firefighters could be taking sick leave due to reactions to receiving the vaccine over the weekend.

“As (the city is) touting that our vaccination rates have increased, also those (medical) leave days increase … as a result,” FDNY-Fire Officers Association President Jim McCarthy told CNN on Tuesday.

McCarthy said an increase in fires at this time of year also can result in an increase in injuries and sick leave.

Edward Kelly, general president of the International Association of Firefighters, said he rejected the idea that firefighters are faking illness to protest the vaccine mandate.

“This assertion that 2,000 New York City firefighters are somehow skirting the system is wrong. It’s flat out wrong and it’s an insult,” Kelly said at a news conference Tuesday.

De Blasio on Tuesday said the rise in sick calls “seems awfully convenient.”

“You see so many more people calling in sick than normal,” he told CNN’s “New Day.”

Any firefighters feigning illness to protest the vaccine mandate are “doing an immense disservice” to the city, de Blasio said a day earlier.

“The folks who are out sick and really aren’t sick – the folks who are faking it – are doing an immense disservice to the people of this city and to their fellow members of service,” de Blasio said during an interview on Spectrum NY1, adding, “We will make sure there are consequences for that.”

The mayor said the city was looking into whether the firefighters’ unions had coordinated any “sick-out.”

“If the union coordinates – in any way – a job action, that is a violation of the Taylor Law,” de Blasio said, referencing a New York state law that prohibits public employees from striking.

The mayor said the city was willing to “go to court immediately” over any alleged Taylor Law violation.

Despite the large number of firefighters calling in sick, de Blasio said New Yorkers remained safe.

“There’s a lot of members of the fire department – there’s a lot of redundancy,” he said, adding that scheduled training and maintenance was canceled Monday in order to maximize the number of on-duty firefighters.

Nigro, the FDNY commissioner, said at a news conference Monday that 18 fire units were out of service out of 350, though no firehouses had closed.

“If you’re sick, you’re sick, it’s a dangerous job. I get it. If you’re not sick, I want to see you back at work,” Nigro said.

Union is ‘not anti-vaccine,’ leader says

According to city figures Monday morning, 77% of FDNY firefighters had received a vaccine, up from 58% when the vaccine mandate was announced on October 20. Emergency medical services employees within the FDNY have an 88% vaccination rate, up from 61%.

FDNY-Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said Monday morning that he didn’t know how many firefighters would not be permitted to work due to still being unvaccinated, stating the FDNY does not share those numbers with them.