Why do some New York City firefighters say they won't take the coronavirus vaccine?

A recent union study conducted by the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) found that more than 55% of New York City firefighters say they will not take the coronavirus vaccine despite the second wave of cases in the city. The survey accounted for 25% of the union’s active membership.

The UFA survey asked, “Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer when the department makes it available?” Nearly 55 percent of 2,053 firefighters responded “no”. The union represents 8,200 active firefighters in New York City. UFA President Andy Ansbro said the number surveyed totaled 25% of their active membership. They were polled last week. These first responders are not the only ones who don’t plan to be vaccinated. Thousands of NYC’s first responders and other essential frontline workers will remain at risk for the highly contagious virus and risk spreading the virus themselves.

The stunning anti-vax response follows an August survey of MTA workers that showed only 30 percent of 645 respondents were definitely willing to be vaccinated. Thirty-eight percent were unsure and 32 percent said they would not take the vaccine, according to the poll of Transport Workers Union members conducted by the NYU School of Global Public Health.

The FDNY announced last week that the vaccinations will not be mandatory but highly recommended. Eleven FDNY members have died of COVID-19 including four EMTs.

New York City medics and firefighters will be among the first in line for the new COVID-19 vaccines as early as mid-December — but they will not be required to take it.

The FDNY told its members, including Emergency Medical Service workers, in an internal order Friday that it would soon provide the eagerly-awaited vaccine to first responders.

“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 the order, obtained by The Post.

Vincent Variale, president of the Uniformed EMS Officers’ Union said the union’s position has always been clear – everyone has the right to decide what they put into their body and no one should be forced to take something they don’t believe in. Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors union said some are skeptical of the vaccine. Gosh, I wonder where they got that? Maybe from hyper-partisan lawmakers, like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer who all voiced hesitation to get a vaccine produced during the Trump administration? It’s hard to imagine elected officials so twisted up with Trump Derangement Syndrome four years into Trump’s term in office that they actually sound like anti-vaxxers instead of doing a service to the public and encouraging them to get the vaccination. Barzilay himself is taking a wait and see position – “I personally am going to wait and see what the side effects are, what the independent studies show” before being vaccinated.”

Mary Beth Morrissey, the chair of the New York State Bar Association’s COVID-19 task force, said it may be necessary for the vaccinations to become mandatory. Health care workers and students may fall into that category to protect public health. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he will take the vaccination, though he was one of the public officials who bad-mouthed President Trump and the speed of the vaccine process, as though the scientists involved would produce and approve an inferior vaccine during a pandemic.

Some firefighters don’t think they need the vaccination because they have already had the virus. There may be a lack of education about the subject of vaccinations.

“Thirty-five percent of our members have already been infected and they’re under the impression that they have antibodies that protect them,” said Andy Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association union, in a press briefing outside the headquarters of Engine Company 3, Ladder Company 12 on West 19th Street in Manhattan.

Ansbro said Sunday that there’s a significant overlap between that figure and the 35 percent of UFA members who have already had the coronavirus and may believe that they can’t be re-infected.

“When you take the 35 percent, the people that actually don’t want it is quite lower. Some think they don’t actually need it,” he said. “So there’s a real education issue that we need to overcome.”

Evidence has shown that it is possible to contract the coronavirus multiple times.

Some firefighters don’t want to be at the front of the line to take the vaccination, some think they’ll step aside and let others take it first. Ansbro says he will take the vaccination and encourage others to do the same, though it is their choice in the end. The first 170,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in New York by Dec. 15.