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Deadline extended for vaccine mandate for state employees, healthcare workers

The deadline is now Oct. 4 as state officials continue to work through the thousands of questionnaires that have been submitted.

HARTFORD, Connecticut — State employees required to comply with the vaccine mandate or agree to testing will have a bit longer to make their decision, as the deadline to submit their vaccination information has been extended. 

Gov. Ned Lamont said in a briefing Wednesday morning that due to the paperwork that officials have to go through, the deadline for final compliance moved from September 27 to October 4. 

Currently, state employees and educators must show proof of vaccination or be tested weekly for COVID-19. Health care workers must be vaccinated with no testing option, according to the governor's mandate.

According to Lamont, more than 70% of state employees have filled out the questionnaire for the state to provide information on their vaccination status.

As of Wednesday morning, the number sat at roughly 10,000 state employees that had not made their intentions known.

Lamont said they have "thousands" of questionnaires coming in every day and will take a few days to go through it. The administration said they expect a surge at the last minute.

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"I am very pleased looking at, for example, New York, not to mention Connecticut, the fact we have this mandate out there for this vaccination – what you saw in New York, the rush of people at the end of the day realizing getting vaccinated is the right thing to do," said Lamont. "What that has meant in terms of public health, what the meant in terms of their hospitals what that meant in terms of their using homes – and I think we'll be seeing that in the great state of Connecticut."

For employees who have the option for testing in lieu of vaccination, religious exemptions are not necessary. The administration at this time does not have the exact number of healthcare workers who submitted for vaccine exemptions.

Approximately 3,000 state employees have opted for weekly testing.

RELATED: United Airlines to start firing hundreds of workers for vaccine refusal

Those who do not comply with the mandate will face an unpaid leave of absence. 

"You could be put out on unpaid leave as early as Tuesday but no later than Monday the 11th," said Department of Administrative Services Commissioner and Connecticut’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

Geballe went on to say that the unpaid leave will affect seniority and retirement eligibility time, and says it's a significant penalty for not complying with the mandate.

The state's three largest hospital systems are also struggling a bit with their respective vaccination mandates, with over 1,600 employees combined still not in compliance.

Yale-New Haven Health especially anticipates having to terminate over 100 employees on Friday. However, the Governor applauds the hospitals' efforts to keep patients and employees safe.

RELATED: Wallingford teacher faces firing over COVID-19 vaccine, testing refusal

"Nobody wants us to get back to total freedom faster than I do," Lamont said. "We’re going to be cautious a little bit longer and it’s worked so far."

Dr. Manisha Juthani, the new Commissioner of the State Department of Public Health, said within a month children ages 5 to 11 will likely be given the go ahead to receive a COVID vaccine, which expands those eligible to receive a COVID vaccine in Connecticut by over 400,000.

The extension of the deadline also comes after Lamont's emergency powers, which have been in place since March 10, 2020, were extended by the state legislature yesterday.

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.   

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