A majority of firefighters working for the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) would refuse a coronavirus vaccine, according to a survey.
The survey drew a response from about 25 percent of the roughly 8,200 members. It asked, “Will you get the COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer when the Department makes it available?”
Of the over 2,000 who responded to the survey, some 1,100, or nearly 55 percent, said they would not get the vaccine, while 929 respondents indicated otherwise, according to Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro:
The UFA represents only FDNY firefighters, not the department’s emergency medical services or officers. However, firefighters are included in medical responses, including to Covid-19 calls, according to Ansbro.
Ansbro told CNN he will “definitely” get the vaccine and hopes more members will as well.
“I will encourage them to get it, but at the end of the day, it is a hundred percent their own choice,” he told the outlet.
The survey comes as researchers found first responders, including “New York City emergency medical service providers and firefighters,” were 15 times more likely to contract the virus than other residents during the start of the pandemic:
Nearly 14,300 FDNY workers employed during the height of the pandemic were studied by researchers, including 3,501 EMS workers and 10,789 firefighters.
Michael Weiden, an FDNY medial officer and New York University Medical School professor, and his colleagues found 5,175 confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases among FDNY workers between the beginning of March to the end of May.
While FDNY did not comment on the volume of members who indicated they will not get the vaccination, a spokesman said that FDNY will “offer the vaccine to everyone that is interested and wanting to take the vaccine.”
“We feel that we, the department and the UFA, are going to work together to provide the best information to our membership, so they can make a decision whether to be vaccinated or not,” FDNY spokesperson Jim Long said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday expressed frustration by the number of people who have indicated they will not take the vaccine.
“I’m also frustrated that we see polls that suggest a high percent of Americans are not ready to take this vaccine, 49 percent nationwide,” Cuomo said during Monday’s presser.
“Bigger problem in the black community: 57 percent say they’re not ready to take the vaccine, but 75 percent to 80 percent needs to be vaccinated to hit critical mass on the vaccination and that’s a problem if you have 50 percent saying ‘I’m not taking it,’ but we have to hit 75 to 80,” Cuomo added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who also spoke at the press conference, agreed:
Yeah, when you have 75 to 80 percent of the people vaccinated, you have an umbrella of protection over the community that the level of community spread will be really, really very low. The virus will not have any place to go. It’s almost metaphorically, if you think the virus is looking for some victims, when most of the people are protected the virus has a hard time latching on to someone.
Fauci added that it will be “entirely dependent upon how well we do, how well I do, you do, your health officials, in getting the message out of why it’s so important for people to get vaccinated.”
“Because if 50 percent of the people get vaccinated, then we don’t have that umbrella of immunity over us,” the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director added.