Jan. 21, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
Queens Council Member Vickie Paladino took her seat at City Hall Thursday after receiving a waiver from the city council’s vaccination mandate.
Paladino, who is an outspoken critic of vaccine mandates, was given an exemption from the rule and provided a negative coronavirus test to enter the council chamber, according to a spokesperson.
“Council Member Paladino was granted a waiver and will be allowed access to the chamber with a negative COVID test,” her spokesperson Robert Hornak said in a statement. “Our understanding is the waiver is indefinite.”
Up until yesterday, the newly elected Republican lawmaker had been denied entry to the Council Chamber for refusing to show proof of vaccination and had been participating in council proceedings remotely via a video linkup.
Council members are required to be immunized against COVID-19 under a council policy implemented in the fall, according to a spokesperson for Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
That policy remains in place under the new council that took office earlier this month, the spokesperson said, adding that “employees are entitled by law to seek accommodations to the vaccine mandate based on medical or religious concerns.”
It is unclear whether Paladino has been vaccinated since she has refused to publicly reveal her immunization status. Earlier this month she likened the city’s mandates to Nazi Germany in an interview with NY1 News. She later walked the comments back and apologized.
“The council member believes that this is a matter of personal medical privacy and that nobody should be forced to disclose their medical information publicly,” Hornak said.
Paladino will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test within seven days of attending any council meeting or hearing, according to reports.
She was seen wearing a black-colored mask inside the council chamber yesterday while the new committee chairs were announced. She posted a picture of herself to Twitter not wearing a mask before proceedings got underway.
“My first day in council chambers for a scheduled session,” Paladino captioned the picture.
“Thank you to Speaker Adams for all your help, and I look forward to a productive and successful term!”
Paladino won the District 19 seat representing Whitestone, College Point, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and parts of North Flushing in November and succeeded Democratic Council Member Paul Vallone.
She narrowly defeated Democrat Tony Avella, who represented the same district in the council from 2002 to 2009.