This protest rally came after de Blasio issued the new Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandate ordering children ages five to 11 to be included in the rule that forces restaurants, movie theaters and other public spaces to ask for proof of vaccination before entry.
It is still unclear how de Blasio plans on enforcing the draconian measures, and whether or not his successor will maintain the policy. Eric Adams will take over as NYC mayor on January 1.
Protesters shouted: "Save our children" and "We say no, we say no." One protester held a sign that read: "Wake up New York. Hold the line." (Related: Injecting children with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is reckless and dangerous.)
In another twist, a New York judge temporarily halted de Blasio's worker vaccine mandate that required workers to have at least one dose of the vaccine by October 29 or be placed on unpaid leave. This put around 9,000 city workers on unpaid leave in November after the order came into effect.
The new vaccine mandate will begin on December 27, although de Blasio said that more information will be made available by December 15.
In a press conference, de Blasio said that the new mandate will apply to in-person employment, with any place with more than one employee on-site subjected to it. There will be no testing opt-out option, either.
Local business leaders said that they were "blindsided" by the requirements, with others saying that they fear it will only exacerbate the ongoing labor shortage – making employers lose some of their workers at a time when many are already short-staffed.
The earlier vaccine mandate sparked protests across New York. Official data from the city's Department of Health showed that 80 percent of residents were fully vaccinated. With de Blasio's mandate ordering all city employees numbering around 160,500, the vaccination rate rose from 71 percent on October 20 to 91 percent by November 1.
Uniformed correctional officers were not included in the mandate as their union actively opposed it. Only 46 percent of them were vaccinated.
Meanwhile, vaccination rates rose to 85 percent for the New York Police Department, 88 percent for Emergency Medical Services, 83 percent for the Sanitation Department and 77 percent for the Fire Department.
According to NYC Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, case rates are highest among children aged five to 11. He also pointed out that parents have already vaccinated over 130,000 kids since the age range became eligible in November.
Indoor activity vaccine requirements will also be necessary for children aged five to 11 and will take effect by mid-December. The proof for younger kids will be required for high-risk extracurricular activities. Those who want to take part in band, sports, orchestra or dance activities at school will have to receive at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccinations to participate in contact sports like football and basketball have already been required for students ages 12 and over.
"Our youngest kids, we got to reach them now. Right now in this city, it's about 20 percent have gotten to that stage in that 5 to 11 range. The vaccine is relatively new. But what we're trying to say to parents is it's urgent. Before omicron grows, before delta continues to stress us even worse in the winter months, get your kid vaccinated. And here's an incentive to do it," de Blasio said.
"Things where there is close contact. Things where kids are singing, anything where they are letting a lot of air out that could have a lot of impact on everyone around them. That has applied to kids 12 and up. We are now going to apply that to kids in the 5 to 11 year age range."
Schools with students five to 11 years old have been holding vaccine drives in the past couple of weeks and will continue to provide them.
Read more about the fight against vaccine mandates at VaccineWars.com.