Approximately 55% of 2,053 firefighters said “No” when the union, the Uniformed Firefighters Association, asked, “Will you get the COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer when the Department makes it available?,” according to UFA president Andy Ansbro, the New York Post reported. The responses comprise about 25% of the union’s 8,200 active members.
A veteran FDNY member disagreed with the “anti-vaxers,” per the outlet, noting the lifesaving potential of vaccines, saying: “It’s saving their lives, and the lives of their co-workers, families, friends, and the people they take care of. They respond to life-threatening medical emergencies. The last thing you want is a family member in dire straits being worked on by an unvaccinated firefighter.”
It’s important to note that the primary goal of the vaccines is to prevent disease, not necessarily its transmission. Moderna and Pfizer have both announced vaccine candidates with over 90% efficacy, per interim analyses, or data released before the trial is over.
News of the poll’s findings follows earlier reports that FDNY would not require its members to get vaccinated, per the outlet. Ansbro said many firefighters fear the vaccine more than the virus itself due to unfamiliarity.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio recently said at a briefing that officials are still fine-tuning the approach for the vaccine distribution plan, though high-risk health care workers and nursing home workers and residents will be among the first to get the jabs, which are still pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The mayor expects the first Pfizer vaccine shipments as early as Dec. 15, with an initial shipment from Moderna one week later, pending regulatory approval.
During a briefing on Monday, which was joined by the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed New Yorkers’ skepticism over vaccines.
“New Yorkers are a skeptical bunch. I don’t blame them…I’m skeptical,” Cuomo said. “I would not ask any New Yorkers to take a vaccine that I would not take myself,” and, when prompted by a reporter, said he will publicly take the vaccine.
Cuomo said the state has a 4.7% overall positivity rate and also on Monday threatened to implement tighter restrictions on indoor dining statewide if hospitalization rates don’t improve.