One-fifth of city firefighters still aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, a week after Mayor de Blasio’s deadline for city workers to get the jab.
In all, seven city agencies still lag behind the Big Apple’s overall coronavirus vaccination rate for adults, and about 9,000 city workers are on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with the mandate, which left 26 fire companies temporarily shuttered citywide last Saturday due to staff shortages caused by the vaccination mandate.
Agencies citywide are making “really good progress” in boosting vaccination rates, de Blasio said Friday on WNYC, including the NYPD and FDNY — adding all fire companies are now “operational” and emergency response times are back to “normal.”
The mayor pointed out that 80% of firefighters are now vaccinated, compared to 58% before he announced his mandate, and that emergency medical service workers, who also fall under FDNY, have seen their vaccination rates soar from 61% to 90% over the same two-week period.
“People are safe,” de Blasio insisted during his weekly radio appearance.
New data released by the Mayor’s Office Friday paints a glowing picture of citywide agencies making significant progress in getting employees vaccinated by the mayor’s Oct. 29 deadline. Uniformed officers in the Department of Correction have until Dec. 1 to get jabbed because of staffing shortages.
Only 63% of DOC staffers had been vaccinated as of Thursday – the lowest of all agencies citywide.
However, vaccination rates at the NYPD, FDNY, Veterans Services Department, Sanitation Department, Department of Homeless Services and New York City Housing Authority were also below the 86.5% rate of adults citywide who’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine, records show.
Excluding the Correction Department, 18,600 city employees have yet to get vaccinated. On Monday, de Blasio said about 9,000 are on unpaid leave because of the mandate. The remaining unvaccinated workers are showing up, pending medical exemption applications while being tested for the virus weekly.
The data also shows that staff within the Mayor’s Office – and various agencies under its umbrella, like the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice – have a vaccination rate of 97%, among the top in city government. The Mayor’s Office wouldn’t provide a breakdown of how many unvaccinated workers are among the hundreds who specifically report to de Blasio at City Hall.
Councilman Robert Holden said first responders should’ve been given weekly testing options because there’s already “staffing issues” at the FDNY and NYPD. He claimed the mandate “will only make it worse.”
“As usual, the mayor paints an unrealistic picture,” said Holden (D-Queens). “This is the reward our first responders get for working hard through the pandemic. They deserve to be treated better.”
The unions representing the firefighters and emergency medical technicians did not immediately respond to requests for comment.