New York, NY (77WABC) – The City union, representing New York City Firefighters are announcing new plans of distribution for the new COVID-19 vaccine – as they will be amongst the first to receive the vaccine.
In a press conference on Sunday, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro encouraged firefighters to take the vaccine – but also says it not mandatory for those firefighters who choose not to.
“As a union, we are encouraging our members to get the vaccine, but we are defending their right to make that choice,” says UFA President Ansbro.
President Ansbro says many of the firefighters feel they have antibodies and are not in an “at-risk” category for COVID-19.
The Firefighters Union says 35% of New York City Firefighters have been infected or have overcome the virus since the pandemic started. Currently, the FDNY has about 125 to 130 of its members infected with COVID-19, out of 11,000 total firefighters who work for the city, or roughly 2% of the department staff.
77WABC has learned the distribution of the vaccine, follows a model which has been used for the past 15-years in the department named the “bipod model.” It’s essentially an exercise where the Department takes units out-of-service, send members to a central location within the 5 boroughs, and then administer the vaccine within a 4-day period.
But the UFA is advocating to change this measure. The union says administering the vaccine while firefighters are on duty, puts the city under siege with emergency responses – especially if one transpires like the massive fire on Saturday. A massive 6-Alarm fire at an East Village building and church yielded the response of hundreds of firefighters and dozens of units.
The United Firefighters Association is advocating to the FDNY to schedule vaccines for members of the Department when they are off-duty. The UFA says this will help to ensure the integrity and shelf-life of the vaccine – since on-duty firefighters have such volatile schedules in responding to emergencies.
The President of the Union says, “I personally feel the vaccine is safe. I’ve done my own research. I will be getting the vaccine. And I will encourage other members to do so. But again – in the end – it’s their own personal choice.”
New York City’s plan to distribute the vaccine, focuses on a “phase 1a” plan, which includes healthcare workers. “Phase 1b” focuses on those older than 65, nursing home residents, and essential workers.