Pockets of vaccine hesitancy appear among US firefighters
In the United States, reluctance to vaccinate police officers has been a topic of pandemic news this year, but in some places, firefighters are joining the resistance.
This week, hundreds of Los Angeles firefighters filed a notice of intent to sue the city for its vaccination mandate, saying the Oct. 20 deadline for getting vaccinated is “extreme and outrageous.”
The notice, filed Thursday, said each of the 871 firefighters would ask for $ 2.5 million each if the lawsuit goes ahead – for a projected total of more than $ 2.1 billion. A lawyer representing the group said the city would have 45 days to assess the notice and that it expected to file the complaint immediately after that period.
Firefighters in Spokane, Washington, have joined state agents in a lawsuit over statewide vaccination warrants, according to KXLY-TV. In Orange County, Florida, a group of firefighters thwarted by a vaccination warrant sued the county, WFTV reported.
The International Association of Firefighters’ statement on vaccines offers no support for the rejection of vaccination warrants. Instead, he notes the extreme importance of vaccination for “firefighters and emergency medical personnel who work in confined and uncontrolled environments while treating or transporting patients or interacting with the public.” The statement lists the few options available for exemptions and lists some of the financial penalties and job losses that failure to meet mandates could result.
Kevin McBride, the attorney representing the Los Angeles Fire Department, said in an interview that his clients do not trust the vaccines available and could be fired for defying the city’s vaccination mandate.
All three vaccines used in the United States are very effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death from Covid-19, and serious side effects, such as a strong allergic reaction, are extremely rare.
Mr McBride said authorities in Los Angeles had rejected his offer of a “middle ground” in which weekly testing would replace shooting. The mandate adopted by Los Angeles City Council in August did not include an option for regular testing.
About 64% of Los Angeles firefighters were fully immunized as of Thursday, according to spokesperson Cheryl Getuiza, and about 1,200 members had not received a single injection. Since the start of the pandemic, two members have died and 1,070 have been infected, she said.
Los Angeles is also experiencing vaccine hesitation among its law enforcement officers. The firefighters’ notice of intent to prosecute was filed the same day Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he would not enforce the vaccination mandate in his department, which employs some 18,000 people.