‘Herd immunity’ misinformation used in firefighter union exec’s defense of opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandate

What occurs when the primary responder employed to save your life dangers publicity to a lethal virus?

The FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Affiliation held a press convention on Oct. 20 to announce that they not solely stand by firefighters who’re refusing to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, in addition they exclaimed that also they are anti-mandate. The information got here hours after Mayor Invoice de Blasio introduced an order mandating that each one metropolis workers get at the very least the primary dose of the vaccine by 5 p.m. Oct. 29, or be despatched house with out pay till they do.

“I represent 20,000 active or retired New York City firefighters. I’m here to speak on behalf of the other 3,500 New York City firefighters that are unvaccinated, 45% of all New York City firefighters at this time are unvaccinated,” stated Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY-UFA, Wednesday afternoon.

Ansbro then proceeded to rattle off a collection of scientifically unfounded claims, resembling the idea that the division has reached herd immunity for the reason that overwhelming majority of firefighters have already contracted the novel coronavirus.

“Over 70% of New York City firefighters have been sick with COVID in the last 20 months. And as of right now 45% are unvaccinated. We in the UFA have always been pro-vaccine, but we are also pro-choice and anti-mandate. Since the pandemic has started, we were all told that our salvation would come when we reached herd immunity. I’m here to say that after 55% of all members have been vaccinated 75-70% have been sick, New York City firefighters have reached herd immunity,” Ansbro stated.

The World Well being Group’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan defined herd immunity on the group web site, stating that this may be achieved as soon as a good portion of the inhabitants is vaccinated, which might then decrease the flexibility for COVID-19 to unfold. Nonetheless, the group additionally underscores that though it has been discovered that people who find themselves contaminated with COVID-19 develop an immune response inside the first few weeks, it’s unknown how sturdy or lasting that response is. In addition to the way it differs from particular person to particular person. Moreover, there have been experiences of individuals contaminated with COVID-19 for a couple of time. 

“So even if 1% of people who get infected are ultimately going to die, then this can add up to a huge number of people, if we look at the global population. And that is why we believe it’s not a good idea to try to achieve herd immunity by just letting the infection run wild in the population and infect a lot of people and that we should talk about herd immunity in the context of a vaccine,” Dr. Swaminathan stated in an interview in August 2020. 

There are nonetheless many unknown components of COVID-19 immunity, and the WHO group believes one of the simplest ways to fight the illness is thru vaccination. 

The Mayo Clinic additionally factors out that herd immunity can’t be achieved if widespread vaccine hesitancy happens, as a result of that enables a contagious sickness to proceed spreading.

Bobby Eustace. Picture by Dean Moses

These on the UFA suppose in a different way. They consider to have achieved herd immunity via their group of employees’ previous encounters with the illness, a false impression of the idea herd immunity, which focuses on a worldwide inhabitants and never a small group.

Feeling that they’re on the frontlines risking their lives each day, the UFA appeared to consider they need to be exempt from the mandate.

“To this moment, we haven’t put out one fire via Zoom, we haven’t done CPR via zoom, not once out of the 300,000 city employees that have gone to work, air quotes work. We’ve been here every day. Not via zoom, not clocked in from the couch, come to work, day in day out,” Bobby Eustace, FDNY-UFA’s vp.

Whereas it was promised that the FDNY will present up for work, President Ansbro frightened that the mandate would outcome in firefighters being despatched house and shut firehouses.

Throughout his day by day press briefing Wednesday, de Blasio shrugged off ideas that the mandate would outcome in mass absences amongst first responders. He stated an analogous mandate imposed in San Francisco resulted in 95% of first responders getting vaccinated.

“What I think is obvious, after a lot of conversation with the leadership of all of our uniformed agencies, is people are there to do a job and they believe in the work. Also, they’re there for a paycheck, of course. It’s a noble profession, but people want to get paid, and they want to accrue time towards that very, very important pension that they get later on, and folks are not going to give that up by and large,” de Blasio stated. “So, our message is straightforward – get vaccinated, maintain with us, maintain us transferring ahead. Anybody who isn’t, will go off payroll onto unpaid go away. We, clearly, have contingencies in place for any gaps that we expertise, however our uniformed company management really feel very strongly that they are going to be in a position to deal with any state of affairs.

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