The FDNY has distributed a “five facts” memo detailing what they believe to be key information about the COVID-19 vaccines to members of the fire department and EMS as the date for potential vaccinations grows closer, a memo obtained by NBC News shows.
The news comes after a firefighter union poll released this weekend appeared to show reluctance among the corps of city first responders most likely to come into contact with COVID-19 patients first.
The memo contains several bulleted points under “fact 1” which says, “getting vaccinated is critical to protecting yourself, your loved ones, our FDNY family, and those we serve, from COVID-19.”
It notes, “the vaccine is available to you because you are essential to the safety of our city, and your safety is essential to the Department” and “vaccination and face-coverings together are our only way back to normalcy because asymptomatic persons can still spread disease.”
The memo deals specifically with concerns about how the vaccines themselves work.
Specifically, “fact 3” says, “both COVID-19 vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to deliver instructions to the body that tell it to produce a non-infectious protein associated with the virus” and “it DOES NOTchange your DNA and you are NOT exposed to the actual virus (live or dead), therefore it cannot cause COVID-19 infection.”
The memo was released after a FDNY union poll showed roughly 55% of the membership said they would not get the vaccine although that statistic comes with an important caveat, the union says.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro noted Sunday “you also have to keep in mind that 35 percent of New York City firefighters have been infected and have overcome the virus. A lot of these members feel that they have antibodies and are not an at-risk category.”
The memo’s other listed ‘facts’ note that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be available to FDNY members in the coming weeks, that the vaccine trials have show only minor side effects and “FDNY leadership is committed to transparency and supporting our members.” They write, “FDNY leadership will continue to provide the most comprehensive facts possible as new information related to the development and availability of COVID-19 vaccines becomes available.”
The memo provides a phone number and e-mail for the FDNY’s Bureau of Health Services for members of the department to reach out to in case they have any questions.
The memo was distributed by FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro and the Chief of Department John Sudnik.