They won’t do what the mayor tells them, or what the experts have strongly encouraged — or what millions of New Yorkers have already done.
Hundreds of firefighters and others against the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate marched on the Upper East Side on Thursday, waving flags and shaking their fists outside Gracie Mansion in order to denounce the vaccine mandates that would require firefighters, police officers, and other city workers to get the jab by Friday afternoon, or face being sent home without pay until they comply.
NYPD officers blocked off the roadway leading to the Mayor’s home up to East End Avenue at 88th Street where several hundred furious people assembled.
Setting up a podium and speakers, the head of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), which represents thousands of firefighters, pleaded with the overwhelming crowd to stay respectful — claiming that the rally was not a political statement but instead a charge to demand choice.
“We’d like to have more time to discuss this,” said Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY-UFA, prior to the rally commencing. “The city has not negotiated with us the terms obviously, you know, we set up we believe that 70% of our members have already been sick. There’s no reason why anyone that was sick last week should be forced to get a vaccine. They have without question a natural immunity.”
While natural immunity exists, the CDC continues to advise all Americans, including those who previously contracted COVID-19 and recovered, to get vaccinated — as the shots help strengthen the immune system and offer a more powerful defense against infection and re-infection than natural immunity alone.
— Dean_Moses (@Dean_Moses) October 28, 2021
When pressed if Ansbro acknowledges the difference between firefighters who contracted the potentially deadly virus in March of 2020 and those who have gotten ill in more recent months in terms of antibodies still working, Ansbro conceded.
“There’s no question about it. But if those people had the option to go have their antibodies checked, the city should say and accept that,” Ansbro said.
Having the antibodies alone, however, does not guarantee some will avoid reinfection — or unknowingly transmit the virus to others.
Some members of the crowd were asked to leave the mass of humanity after being spotted with swastikas while more carrying signs reading “My body, my choice” and “Essential workers aren’t disposable heroes” continued to descend on the area. One group hauled a coffin into the roaring horde with the word “Freedom” scrawled across it.
As officials from the Uniformed Firefighters Association demanded the Mayor reconsider the vaccine mandate, those in the crowd denied the vaccine’s use — the first steps of a downward spiral at the event.
The calls to remain respectful were not only refused but outright ignored as several among them tossed trash into Carl Schurz Park, yelling: “F**k de Blasio!”
Although chaos erupted around him, Ansbro warned more would come if firehouses are forced to close due to worker shortages resulting from the mandate. About 20% of the FDNY has not yet received the vaccine, according to the latest city figures.
To date, more than 6 million New Yorkers — who are dependent upon the FDNY, the NYPD and other civil servants to keep the city running — have rolled up their sleeves to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.