NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 170,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in New York as early as this weekend and first responders will be some of the first to have access to it.
However, more than half of firefighters surveyed said they don't plan to take it. Department leaders say getting the vaccine is not a mandate and is completely voluntary.
While 1/3 of FDNY members say they already had coronavirus and they don't feel they need it, experts disagree.
"Nearly 300,000 people died in this country of COVID and taking this vaccine is a good thing for them, for their family and for the public that we serve," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Now the FDNY is releasing more detailed information to their members about the vaccines and why it's important for firefighters who are on the frontlines and live in close quarters to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
A memo went out to New York City firefighters pointing out that: "The vaccine is available to you because you are essential to the safety of our city, and your safety is essential to the Department."
That memo tried to clear up any misconceptions or misinformation about the vaccine saying that the shot does not change your DNA and it will not expose you to the virus alive or dead.
It follows a survey of New York City firefighters that found that 55% of them are not willing to get the vaccine.
The New York Post called the first responders, "first refusers."
The union went on to encourage their members, but defended their right to make a choice, saying the union and the city have work to do to increase confidence.
"I think one way for people to think about this, this vaccine, is to think about it like it's a message in a bottle and it's getting injected into your body and yourself, take up that message in a bottle," said Dr. Jay Varma, Senior Advisor for Public Health, NYC Mayor's Office. "They remove the message and the message tells yourself, you know, watch out for this intruder that's going to be coming. And there's really nothing in that message in a bottle that is dangerous."
The memo also pointed out to firefighters that getting vaccinated will protect their families, in particular their children who will likely have to wait on a pediatric vaccine to become available.
Experts say two vaccines -- one by Pfizer and the other by Moderna -- both appear to be 95% effective.
Pfizer's vaccine could be approved for emergency use in the United States as soon as Thursday.
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