An estimated 2,300 firefighters in New York City called in sick following the enactment of the city’s vaccine mandate which targets all municipal workers. The news was broken by Daniel A. Nigro , the FDNY Commissioner who gave a press conference on Monday.
Nigro alleged that many of the firefighters calling in sick were merely protesting the vaccine mandate, which met serious resistance within many municipal departments and brought out a march on the eve of its enactment. As of 5 p.m. on Monday, 77% of firefighters had reported getting at least one shot of vaccine, along with 85% of the police force and 63% of Department of Corrections workers.
Nigro impatiently complained that “If you’re sick, you’re sick… If you’re not sick… [get] back at work.” Nigro demanded that emergency workers “come to their senses… stop using medical leave improperly.” Nigro claimed that the rebellious workers were not just failing to support their communities, but are also burdening their fellow emergency response “brothers and sisters.”
While the majority of the city’s network of 350 fire stations remain in operation, 18 were completely out of service on Monday due to staffing shortages.
According to union officials who spoke during a press conference on Tuesday, the shortages are placing an immense strain on firefighters who choose to continue working. Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association denied the idea that firefighters were performing an en masse “sickout.”
Ansbro pointed out that by admission of Nigro, that the vast majority of members on sick leave have not been vaccinated. He said that the firefighters were sent home in accordance with Mayor de Blasio’s mandate and explained that “you can’t have it both ways.” Ansbro then pointed out that the crisis is entirely “on the mayor.”
According to Ansbro, an estimated 1,700 firefighters are currently unvaccinated. Municipal workers across all departments have been applying for either religious or medical exemptions against the mandate.
Ansbro stressed that the Uniformed Firefighters Association is not against vaccines, but said that many of the firefighters in question have already contracted the virus and believe that there’s no need to get vaccinated. Dave Chokshi, the City Health Commissioner has previously stated that the immunity duration after experiencing COVID-19 is not currently well understood.
Author: Linda Campbell