Poll: Over Half of FDNY Firefighters Will Refuse Vaccine

Dec. 6, 2020
A recent internal survey by the FDNY's firefighters union polled 2,053 members, and around 55 percent of them said they wouldn't get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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A recent internal FDNY survey revealed that more than half of the department's firefighters won't take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

In the past three days, the Uniformed Firefighters Association polled 2,053 members, and around 55 percent of them said they wouldn't get vaccinated for the virus, Andy Ansbro, the union president, told the New York Post. Those polled make up around a quarter of the the union's 8,200 active members.

Last month, an FDNY memo stated the department would not mandate firefighters and EMS workers take the COVID vaccine. As of Friday, the FDNY had more than 130 positive cases, with at least six firehouses having three or more cases, a department source told the Post.


In a joint statement last month, the  International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Association of State Fire Marshals, and the National Volunteer Fire Council urged governors and state health officials to give top priority to firefighters and EMS workers when it came to receiving the vaccine. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation announced Tuesday that at least 104 first responders have died from the virus this year. 

A Centers for Disease Control advisory panel, however, recommended last week that health care workers and long-term care facility workers and residents be placed in the 1a priority group for the vaccine.

Ansbro told the Post that many FDNY firefighters in their 30s and 40s aren't as threatened by COVID-19, especially if they've already battled the virus. He added that he would be getting vaccinated.

“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 told the Post. “They are more familiar with the coronavirus than they are with the vaccine.”

Skepticism about the vaccine also runs high among FDNY EMS members.

“A few are anxious to get it, but there have been a few dozen (online) responses saying, ‘Thanks, but no  thanks,' ” Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors union, told the Post. “They were thankful it was not mandatory, because they don’t want to be looked at as test subjects.”

Barzilay added that he would be waiting to see about what independent studies reveal concerning possible side effects before taking the vaccine.

One veteran FDNY member told the Post that the resistance toward the vaccine is a source of frustration.

“The 55 percent doesn’t surprise me. They’re called the Bravest, not the Smartest,” the FDNY member said.

“It’s saving their lives, and the lives of their co-workers, families, friends, and the people they take care of. They respond to live-threatening medical emergencies. The last thing you want is a family member in dire straits being worked on by an unvaccinated firefighter.”  

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