The two commissioners who oversee the largest police and fire departments in the U.S., both in New York City, went on the record Wednesday as saying they support vaccine mandates for the members of their respective departments.
During the mayor's morning press briefing, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters that he "would be supportive of a vaccine mandate," a belief he has said "from day one."
Shea said that "that the science, to health, the emergency situation that we're in, it makes sense." The NYPD currently has a vaccination rate of 68 percent among its 55,000 sworn and civilian members, according to Shea.
However, one of the city's police union presidents was not as supportive of a mandate. Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said that vaccination should be left up to the officers get to choose on their own.
"In the PBA's view, the COVID-19 vaccine is a medical decision that members must make in consultation with their own healthcare providers. We have pushed to make the vaccine available to all members who seek it, and we will continue to protect the rights of members who are not vaccinated," Lynch said. "That position has not changed, and neither the city nor the NYPD has advised us of any changes to the current vaccination policy."
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro addressed the issue at a memorial event for fallen firefighters which included two members of the FDNY lost to COVID-19.
He says all told 16 members of the FDNY have died due to COVID-19. When it comes to a vaccine mandate, Nigro said "it’s time, people have had a long time to think about this, for our members to be mandated.”
“They’re out there treating the public — their families deserve it, their neighbors deserve it, the public deserves it," he said.
Nigro said that the FDNY is in the “mid-sixties” in the percentage of those vaccinated, which includes firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and civilian members of the FDNY.
During the height of the pandemic in NYC in April 2020, the FDNY handled over 6,500 calls to 911 a day for people sick with COVID-19 or complaints of COVID-19 symptoms. At that time, nearly 1 in 4 members of the department were out sick.