55 Percent of NYC Firefighters Say They Won't Take COVID Vaccine, as City Continues to See Case Surge

Over half of New York City firefighters said they will not get vaccinated for COVID-19 despite the second wave of cases in the city.

Nearly 55 percent of 2,053 firefighters responded "no" when asked, "will you get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer when the department makes it available?" according to a recent union study.

The survey was conducted by the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), a union representing 8,200 active firefighters in New York City. UFA President Andy Ansbro said the survey accounted for 25 percent of their active members, according to the New York Post.

If the survey's findings become reality—as New York State anticipates 170,000 doses of Pfizer's vaccine pending the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) emergency approval—thousands of first responders would remain vulnerable to the virus and continued to be potential spreaders, reported the Post.

Re-opening Continues Across Densely Populated New York
Re-opening Continues Across Densely Populated New York And New Jersey Areas Over half of New York City firefighters said they will not get vaccinated for COVID-19 despite the second wave of cases in the city. Members of the FDNY are shown above with and without masks carry arrive at an accident as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 23, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images/Getty

Andrew Ansbro, president of the UFA, told Newsweek on December 7 that the information collected in the survey will be used to "assist the department to get the vaccine out." However, Ansbro noted the data was "only a baseline," and he hopes the number of those willing to take Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will increase.

The results of the survey came nearly two weeks after the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) announced it won't make the vaccine mandatory for its members, even as the city sees a surge of COVID-19 cases.

The FDNY told members in an internal order on November 27 that the department will soon provide COVID-19 vaccines to its first responders.

"Vaccination will NOT be mandatory, but the Department recommends that members consider the overall benefits," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and Chief Department John Sudnik wrote in the order, obtained by the Post.

Others believe mandatory COVID-19 vaccination would be the best way to protect the public.

"It may become necessary to require that certain individuals or communities be vaccinated, such as health care workers and students, to protect the public's health," Mary Beth Morrissey, the chair of the New York State Bar Association's COVID-19 task force, said in a statement on November 7.

The city has seen a 5 percent positivity rate over the past week, according to a December 5 tweet from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. It reported 2,179 new coronavirus cases and 158 hospitalizations on Saturday.

Today’s #COVID19 indicators:

• 158 new hospitalizations
• 2,179 new cases
• 5% positivity rate (7-day avg.)

During this critical time in our city's history, we must band together to beat this pandemic. Consistency in following guidance is key, as well as getting tested.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 5, 2020

Overall, New York State reported at least 700,900 coronavirus cases and 34,480 death since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from The New York Times.

The state, once an epicenter for the virus, mitigated its cases during the summer. However, in recent weeks the area has seen a second wave of infections. According to the Times, the state reported an average of 8,815 new cases each day, an 80 percent increase compared to weeks prior.

The FDNY said infections among firefighters have also been on the rise. It reportedly saw positivity rates within the department tripled in recent weeks, according to the Post.

This article has been updated to include the response from Ansbro.