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The National Interest: 55% of NYC Firefighters Say They Won’t Take Coronavirus Vaccine

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Ethen Kim Lieser

Public Health, Americas

What accounts for this lack of faith in the vaccine process?

More than half of firefighters in New York City have admitted that they will not get vaccinated for the novel coronavirus, according to an internal survey.

Andrew Ansbro, the president of the union representing the city’s firefighters, said more than two thousand individuals participated in the poll and the chief reason for the hesitancy is that many are concerned about trying a vaccine that has limited information regarding its safety and effectiveness.

“You also have to keep in mind that 35 percent of New York City firefighters have been infected and have overcome the virus,” he said in a press conference on Sunday. “A lot of these members feel that they have antibodies and are not an at-risk category.”

The surveyed individuals represent roughly 25 percent of the union’s overall membership of 8,200 active firefighters.

According to a recent internal memo shared by the Fire Department of the City of New York, firefighters were told that getting a vaccine from either Moderna or Pfizer “will not be mandatory, but the Department recommends that members consider the overall health benefits.”

“As a union, we are encouraging our members to get the vaccine, but we are defending their right to make that choice,” Ansbro said.

“I personally feel this vaccine is safe, I’ve done my own research. I will be getting the vaccine and I will be encouraging other members to do so. In the end, it is their own personal choice.”

New York City, once the epicenter of the virus, has seen a 5 percent positivity rate over the past week. In all, the state has reported at least 700,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 35,000 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic ten months ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The poll’s results are in line with another recent survey carried out by the Pew Research Center, which found that 60 percent of Americans are planning on getting inoculated—up from 51 percent in September.

The national poll, conducted between November 18 and 29 among 12,648 U.S. adults, revealed that 39 percent of respondents definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine. However, about half in that group—roughly 18 percent of U.S. adults—admitted that it is possible that they would decide to get inoculated once others get vaccinated first and more information becomes available.

About 20 percent of adults surveyed do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Regardless of people’s intention to get vaccinated, 62 percent of respondents said they would be uncomfortable being among the first to roll up their sleeves for a shot.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.

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