More than 15,000 New York City municipal employees have taken COVID-19 vaccines since Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the mandate last week — and roughly half of those shots came on the eve of Friday's deadline.

But with three days to go, New Yorkers still face the prospect of 33,000 government workers being told to stay home when enforcement starts on Monday, hampering tax-funded services citywide.

As of Thursday evening, 88% of the city's total workforce, or roughly 332,000 employees, had received at least one dose. That's an improvement of 4 percentage points since the mayor's expansion of the mandate on October 20th. Department of Education staff and public health care workers were already required to be immunized under prior mandates.

All told, the new mandate affects a little over 159,000 city employees, all of which were offered $500 incentives that also end Friday. Among those employees, the vaccination coverage has moved 8 percentage points since last week.

Public emergency medical service workers saw some of the biggest spikes: 77% of staff are now vaccinated, compared with just 61% before the new mandate was announced. The Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Homeless Services, Department of Transportation and Human Resources Administration also bumped their vaccination rates by 10 or more percentage points.

Denis Nash, an epidemiology professor at CUNY, said that while he was unsure how effective the cash incentives have been, he viewed protecting public health as "a commodity worth paying for.”

“We can’t just make vaccines available and hope that the vast majority of people will get vaccinated," he added. "All options need to be on the table.”

De Blasio has said that those who do not have proof of vaccination will be sent home without pay.

Some agencies with low vaccination rates, including first responders and sanitation, still face significant holdouts. Nearly 11,000 police and roughly 5,500 fire department workers, about 20% and 30% of the workforce respectively, are yet to get their shots.

Likewise, just over half of Department of Corrections (DOC) employees were vaccinated before the mandate was expanded, and that percentage rose to just 54% by Thursday. (The vaccination requirement for DOC officers doesn’t kick in until December.)

Similarly, 33% of sanitation workers are also still holding out, amounting to approximately 3,400 people. A Gothamist analysis found that 311 complaints about uncollected trash more than quadrupled in the last week. The mayor has attributed the drop in service to workers protesting the vaccine mandate. In response, he said the sanitation department had canceled any vacation days for workers and had adopted a 12-hour shift that would now include Sundays.

Two white garbage trucks drive down a city street.

Two garbage trucks drive down New York Avenue in Brooklyn on October 29th, 2021.

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Two garbage trucks drive down New York Avenue in Brooklyn on October 29th, 2021.
Daniel Shapiro
A pile of trash bags sits on a city sidewalk.

Uncollected trash sits on New York Avenue in Brooklyn on October 29th, 2021.

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Uncollected trash sits on New York Avenue in Brooklyn on October 29th, 2021.
Daniel Shapiro

Earlier this fall, hospitals and nursing homes braced for staffing shortages as their own vaccination mandate approached. But employees turned out in droves in the days leading up to the deadline, bringing vaccination rates for many facilities close to 100%.

During his press conference on Thursday, de Blasio issued a stern warning to sanitation employees shirking their duties.

"Anyone who is not doing their job," he said, "you're harming your fellow sanitation workers, and you're harming your neighbors and you're harming the people of New York City. And it's time to stop."