Thousands of New York City firefighters say they will not accept a Covid-19 vaccination shot when it becomes available to them, according to a new internal survey reported in the New York Post.
If the survey results become reality, it would mean a high percentage of NYC’s first responders and other essential frontline workers would continue to be vulnerable to the virus and remain potential spreaders, turning them from life savers into potential human hazards.
The New York Fire Department (FDNY) says it will not make the vaccine mandatory for its fighters, a policy expected to be followed by all city agencies and even hospitals.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) conducted the survey of its members and found that only 30% of respondents were definitely willing to be vaccinated. 32% said they will definitely not take the vaccine and 38% were still unsure what they will do.
Survey researchers said, “The main reason for not taking the shot or being unsure was the lack of trust in its safety. A sizeable portion said they no longer trust anyone.”
UFA president Andy Ansbro told the Post, “A lot of them probably feel they are not in a risk category; they are younger and stronger and have become less afraid of the virus as they know colleagues who have survived it.”
Emergency Medical Services or EMS workers, who will be among the first FDNY members to be offered the vaccine, have also been vocal in their scepticism, according to Oren Barzilay, president of their union.
“A few are anxious to get it, but there have been many responses saying, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” Barzilay said of online chatter. “They were thankful it was not mandatory, because they don’t want to be looked at as test subjects.”
Barzilay told the Post, “I personally am going to wait and see what the side effects are before being vaccinated.
A veteran FDNY member expressed frustration with the naysayers, and believes first responders getting vaccinated is a public health necessity.
“Their job is saving lives. The last thing you want is an injured family member being worked on by an unvaccinated firefighter.”
However, the source, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted that he was not surprised by the numbers, saying, “Firefighters are called the bravest, not the smartest.”