For months, public health experts have said that getting a coronavirus vaccine is crucial to stopping the spread of the virus, reducing hospitalizations and deaths, and bringing a return of normalcy to the world.
Among the first to get the vaccine will be first responders. But what if first responders say “no” to getting vaccinated?
According to a survey conducted by the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which represents members of the New York Fire Department, a majority of the firefighters surveyed said they would decline a coronavirus vaccine. The survey reached nearly one-fourth of all members of the NYFD.
Part of the reason is that firefighters in New York City were hard hit early on during the pandemic. The union said that 35% of its members have been infected by the virus. While those infected do build antibodies to the virus, there are still questions on how long those antibodies last, and how soon can someone be re-infected by the virus.
Andy Ansbro who leads the union said it is the choice of firefighters in the city to take the vaccine, but added that the union is advocating its members to take it.
“We can’t have this on 24/7 so there is going to be exposure,” Ansbro said in an interview with WCBS-TV about face coverings.
Pfizer’s vaccine candidate is slated to go before the FDA on Thursday for emergency use authorization. If authorized, a small number of Americans, mostly consisting of first responders, health care workers or those living or working in assisted living facilities, will be able to get a dose of the vaccine.
Pfizer’s vaccine, which the company says is 95% effective at preventing the virus, comes in two doses. A booster dose would be given to patients 28 days after the first shot.
Meanwhile, Moderna is slated to seek FDA approval for its coronavirus vaccine candidate. If approved, its vaccine could also begin going to high-risk Americans in the coming weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview last week on CNN that it will take a vast majority of Americans getting vaccinated before the US reaches herd immunity. When the US reaches herd immunity, that is when social distancing measures can be eased, Fauci says.