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For some, there is more anxiety over taking a newly developed vaccine to ward off COVID-19 as there is over the effects of the Chinese plague.
A stunning internal survey of New York City firefighters found more than half say they will not take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to first responders, the New York Post reported.
Conducted last week by the Uniformed Firefighters Association, and union president Andy Ansbro told The Post that about 55 percent of 2,053 firefighters answered “No” when asked, “Will you get the COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer when the Department makes it available?”
With 8,200 active members, the number polled equals about 25% of membership. An FDNY source told the newspaper that of Friday there were more than 130 positive cases of COVID-19 in the department’s ranks.
First responders will reportedly be among the first in line for a vaccine expected to be available in a matter of weeks — vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will reportedly get an FDA emergency use authorization soon.
But FDNY informed medics and firefighters last month they will not be required to take it.
“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, according to The Post.
And there is anxiety, according to Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors union.
“A few are anxious to get [the vaccine], but there have been a few dozen responses saying, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” the union chief said. “They were thankful it was not mandatory because they don’t want to be looked at as test subjects.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, took part in a CNN town hall on Friday to talk about “a surge upon a surge.” He also said even with a vaccine that public health measures cannot be abandoned.
Dr. Fauci: "You can't abandon all public health measures." pic.twitter.com/0twdV88B19
— The Hill (@thehill) December 5, 2020
The U.S. averaged a record high 182,633 daily new cases over the last week, according to Johns Hopkins University — on Friday, 227,885 cases were recorded, this being the highest one-day count of the pandemic.
“We haven’t yet seen the full effect of a potential surge upon a surge,” Fauci said. “The travel associated with Thanksgiving, the congregating at family and social gatherings with people indoors, sometimes without masks. So that may peak two to three weeks from now.”
He also said healthy, non-elderly Americans with no underlying health conditions will not start receiving the new COVID-19 vaccine until late March, early April.
“Once you get into April, probably full blast with those individuals,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why what we would really like to see is that once you get into the ‘open season,’ in the sense that anybody can get it, that we really have a full-court press on getting people vaccinated because the quicker you get the overwhelming majority of the country vaccinated, the quicker you’re going to have that umbrella of herd immunity — which would be so, so important in bringing the level of that virus way, way down to below the threatening level.”
“The sooner we get there, the better we are,” he added.