NYPD Waits for Vaccine, while 30% of FDNY Reject the Shots
By Yehudit Garmaise
Although the FDNY began vaccinating personnel more than two weeks ago, 30% of New York’s firefighters and paramedics have declined the
department’s vaccine registration request, the New York Post reported. An additional 33% FDNY members failed to respond at all.
Firefighters, who are considered medical first-responders, were put in the first priority group of 1A for the COVID vaccination, while police officers, teachers, other frontline health workers, and people over the age of 75 are still anxiously awaiting their turn to get the vaccine, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said is currently in short supply.
Last week the governor said that the state currently has only 900,000 doses of the vaccine for its 2 million healthcare workers.
The city and state’s strategy to deal with a demand for vaccines that currently exceeds the state’s supply is to take the vaccines that were refused by prioritized groups and offer them to those who are next line.
In a press conference last week, however, the governor questioned whether vaccines were being efficiently redistributed to those who actually want them.
For instance, Gov. Cuomo said that in the priority category of 1A, 917,000 healthcare workers were eligible to get the vaccine in New York City, which, last week, had only administered 144,000 vaccines, or 14% of the city’s healthcare workers.
“If you only vaccinated 14% [of healthcare workers], how can you say you hit the refusal rate,” the governor rhetorically asked Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press conference last week.
Many firefighters who are refusing the vaccine believe they are immune to COVID-19, or they simply are not afraid of the virus after recovering from the virus or after watching colleagues recover, said Andy Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which represents 8,200 FDNY firefighters.
“We will always have members who aren’t comfortable or don’t feel it’s necessary, and with the amount of members who have already been sick and could have antibodies, some of those members are going to wait and just aren’t going to get it in the immediate future,” Ansbro said.
The Police Benevolent Association (PBA), however, expressed frustration that doses are sitting unused at FDNY facilities, while cops are still ineligible to receive them.
“It’s absurd to keep police officers waiting for the vaccine while there are unused doses available,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said. “If others have passed up the opportunity, let us take it.”
After weeks of disagreement between Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo, the city announced Friday that it will begin vaccinating the NYPD on Monday.