FDNY first responders among first to receive emergency COVID vaccine
City firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics will be among the first to receive the emergency COVID-19 vaccine once the feds approve it, FDNY officials said Saturday.
“Vaccination will potentially begin in mid-to late-December of this year,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro Nigro wrote in a memo.
On Nov. 20, drug maker Pfizer and BioNTech, its German partner, submitted an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, asking regulators for emergency clearance so they can be begin distributing the drug to healthcare workers and first responders. The drug company Moderna submitted a similar application.
The FDA plans to review both applications starting on Dec. 8. If approved, the two companies could be doling out their medicines as early as next month.
The two vaccines are considered safe and 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 infections, the pharmaceutical companies claim.
“The Department will continue to brief our members as new information develops,” Nigro said in his memo. “Be assured that we will make certain our members, as essential healthcare workers, receive the highest possible priority for personal protective equipment – including vaccination.”
FDNY employees will not be forced to take a shot.
“Vaccination will NOT be mandatory, but the Department recommends that members consider the overall benefits.”
As with other medicines and inoculations, like the flu shot, each FDNY member must agree to take the potentially life-saving vaccine.
“There is currently no legal requirement for anyone to take a COVID-19 vaccine,” an FDNY spokesman said.
The pandemic has strained the city’s emergency services with EMS crews handling as many as 6,000 calls a day at the apex of the crisis in the spring.
Eleven FDNY employees, including four EMTs, died from COVID-19 this year.
The emergency vaccine approval comes as New York City begins to see an uptick in COVID numbers that hasn’t been since since the height of the pandemic in late April.
More than 13 million people in the U.S. contracted coronavirus and more than 250,000 have died of the virus, as of Saturday. Tens of thousands of new cases are reported daily nationwide.
Pfizer said that, once approved, 25 million doses may become available for U.S. use in December, 30 million in January and 35 million more in February and March. Recipients will need two doses, three weeks apart.