More than half of New York City’s firefighters who participated in a union survey have said they have no plans to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a survey of 2,053 firefighters by the Uniformed Firefighters Association, 55 percent said they would not take the vaccine from Pfizer drug company that appears to be the first that will be available, union President Andy Ansbro said, according to the New York Post.
The union has about 8,200 active members overall.
He said that many firefighters have seen healthy people bounce back from a brush with the virus or have already been infected and returned to health.
“A lot of them probably feel they are not in a risk category, they are younger, stronger, they may have already had it and gotten through it, and feel it’s not their problem,” Ansbro said.
“They are more familiar with the coronavirus than they are with the vaccine.”
Ansbro said he will be vaccinated.
Skepticism runs deep among emergency services workers said Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors union.
“A few are anxious to get it, but there have been a few dozen responses saying, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” he said told the Post. “They were thankful it was not mandatory, because they don’t want to be looked at as test subjects.”
He is also not yet persuaded to get the shot.
“I personally am going to wait and see what the side effects are, what the independent studies show,” he told the Post.
As for the NYPD, vaccination will be voluntary.
According to the Post, Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said the union would consider the vaccination in the same light as personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing.
“As we did with PPE and testing, the PBA will press for the vaccine to be made available to our members as early as possible,” Lynch said. “If the goal is to stop the spread everywhere, we should prioritize protections for the first responders whose duties take us into every corner of the city.”
The vaccine also gets a mixed review among the general public in the Big Apple. In an October survey from the New York City Health Department, only slightly more than 50 percent of those surveyed said they would get the vaccine, the Post reported
The issue of mandatory vaccines divides experts.
“It may become necessary to require that certain individuals or communities be vaccinated, such as health care workers and students, to protect the public’s health,” Mary Beth Morrissey, a research fellow at Fordham University and chair of the New York State Bar Association’s COVID-19 task force, said in a statement
But Rachael Piltch-Loeb, a public health expert, told the Post that pushing too hard could be counterproductive.
“We want to encourage essential workers to get the vaccine, but we need to be super conscientious about how much we ask of essential workers,” she said.
Noting an August survey in which only 30 percent of Transport Workers Union members were gung-ho on the vaccine, she said there are issues to overcome.
“There’s an underlying issue with rising vaccine hesitancy and within certain communities and groups, that percentage is much higher than what we see nationally,” she told the newspaper.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation, a lot of mistrust in government messaging, how the pandemic’s been handled, and a lot of distaste among certain essential workers how they really were not prioritized to receive PPE.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.