New York Governor Debate: Hochul Vows Not to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for Children ‘At This Time’

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has vowed not to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for children “at this time,” saying the decision will ultimately be down to the state Legislature.

Hochul, a Democrat, made the comments during a debate on Tuesday against her opponent in the gubernatorial race, Long Island Republican Lee Zeldin, ahead of the midterm elections.

When asked if she would mandate the shots for children, Hochul simply stated “not at this time,” adding that the “Legislature makes the determination in consultation with health experts for next year’s school year.”

“You’re talking about this year. We’re not talking about mandating a vaccine for children in school at this time, but I’m encouraging—highly, highly encouraging,” Hochul said.

Zeldin on the other hand vowed that he would never mandate the COVID-19 shots for children.

“Let me be clear to all the parents out there. I will not mandate COVID vaccines for your kids ever,” the GOP candidate said. “I don’t believe there should be COVID vaccine mandates for our kids in CUNY, in community colleges, and elsewhere.”

CUNY is the City University of New York.

Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks to delegates and assembled party officials at the 2022 NYGOP Convention in Garden City, N.Y. on March 1, 2022. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

‘Heroes Were Turned Into Zeroes’

Zeldin, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, also took aim at Hochul’s decision to fire unvaccinated health care workers after she mandated they be fully vaccinated by Dec. 5, 2021.

As of Oct. 19, 2022, 99 percent of New York medical staff statewide are vaccinated, according to officials. However, tens of thousands of unvaccinated health care workers lost their jobs.

“Where just over a year ago, a whole bunch of heroes were turned into zeroes—tens of thousands of people—because of my opponent’s health care worker COVID mandate. I believe that mandate was wrong, and that everyone who was fired should be offered their jobs back with back pay,” Zeldin said, adding that this also applies to New York Police Department officers and teachers.

“I do not support COVID vaccine mandates in any way, shape, or form,” Zeldin said.

In response, Hochul branded Zeldin and Trump as “masterful COVID deniers” while simultaneously vowing that she would “do it all over again” when it comes to firing unvaccinated health care workers.

Recent public opinion polls have shown that Zeldin is gaining on Hochul ahead of the election as key issues such as abortion, crime, and corruption weigh heavily on the minds of New Yorkers.

Zeldin on Tuesday took aim at policies that Hochul has supported, including removing cash bail for nonviolent felonies and most misdemeanors, while the Democrat placed the blame on Republicans’ failure to do “something about illegal guns,” according to Reuters.

“No more school massacres by teenagers. Let’s have background checks. Let’s have safety checks. Let’s do it smart. You are nowhere to be found,” Hochul said.

Katabella Roberts


Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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