More than half of New York City’s firefighters say they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is made available to the FDNY.
"The reasons for that are probably the same reasons everyone else doesn't want it: it is a new vaccine, they don't have enough information,” explained Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA).
Ansbro said he will get the vaccine and encouraged his members to do the same.
The UFA is speaking out after their internal survey revealed 55% of those who participated answered “no” when asked if they would receive the Vaccine from Pfizer.
"As a union, we are encouraging our members to get the vaccine, but we are defending that right to make that choice,” Ansbro said.
More than 2,000 firefighters participated, representing about a quarter of all members.
The UFA said that benchmark is normally used to accurately represent where members fall on different issues.
Ansbro said the union will work with the department on educating firefighters, and that he believes, with more information, participation will be higher than the survey predicts.
"That is going to be the hurdle the department and the union is going to have to overcome. We want to get those numbers up and part of it is going to make sure we don't fall short of the 45% by having an ineffective delivery system, but also we need to educate and encourage our members to get the vaccination."
The UFA said the department's current model to distribute the vaccine is not effective.
Currently, firehouses would be taken out of service and sent to a central location to receive the vaccination.
The union wants members to go when they are off duty to ensure there will be no diversions for those who want to get vaccinated.
"If they thaw out too many doses and then something comes in, a large fire, those doses may go to waste. This vaccine is far too important to leave it to chance,” said Ansbro.
According to the UFA, the FDNY will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the next couple of weeks. It is unclear just how many members will be vaccinated as a part of this first round of distribution.