FDNY Will Not Require Members to Get COVID Vaccine, Putting Others at Risk
By Yehudit Garmaise
Although a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 is eagerly awaited, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) is not going to require the shots of all its members, which some fear will further spread the disease.
“Vaccination will not be mandatory, but the Department recommends that members consider the overall benefits,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and Chief of Department John Sudnik wrote in an internal FDNY order, the New York Post reported.
One veteran FDNY member, however, said the lack of a mandate will put the public at risk.
“Unvaccinated first-responders have the potential for being carriers, and therefore can infect others — from the firehouse to the public at large, including our most vulnerable citizens,” the member said.
The veteran member added, “The public has no way of knowing who took the vaccine and who didn’t. You could be Typhoid Mary … Imagine a crew going into a nursing home, and three or four are not vaccinated. They could spread it to everybody and kill people.”
But the FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer said, “There is currently no legal requirement for anyone to take a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The leaders of two FDNY unions agreed with the voluntary-only distribution of the vaccine.
“Members should take the opportunity to get the vaccine if it makes them feel safer, but it should be an individual choice,” said Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Inspectors.
Some worry that the position of the FDNY not to require its members to take the vaccine could set a precedent for other unions, such as the teachers' unions, which may also not require their members to be vaccinated, and therefore, put schoolchildren, other teachers, and staff members at risk.
On Thursday, during an upbeat Thanksgiving call with members of the armed forces overseas, the president said that a vaccine could be ready to be administered as early as next week, and first responders, emergency medical service workers, healthcare workers, and the elderly would be the first Americans to receive it.
On Nov. 20, Pfizer and BioNTech, which have developed and tested a vaccine that they say is 95% effective, has asked for the vaccine’s emergency use authorization, which is expected next month.
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