NEW YORK - Approximately 2,300 FDNY firefighters, or more than 2.5 times the normal daily rate, called out sick Monday as the city's COVID vaccine mandate went into effect. 55% of those out "sick" had yet to receive the vaccine.
Concerns are growing over the potential shortage of firefighters who refuse to get at least one shot after the mandate was announced approximately 11 days ago.
Unions representing the firefighters have said the rush to vaccinate was unfair and did not give their members enough time to make the decision.
Of the 350 units within the FDNY, 18 were closed Monday due to staffing shortages.
"There are no firehouses closed," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "The fire department has 350 units so let's take that into perspective. If we went back a month on any given day we might find 18 units out of service for training, for maintenance, for repairs of apparatus and such. But in our contingency plan, we ended all of that so we would have more availability."
The fire department vaccination rate among the fire-fighting side of the department was 77% up from 58% while 88% of emergency management personnel were vaccinated up from 61%.
1,700 NYC firefighters were anticipated to be placed on unpaid leave, said the United Firefighters Association.
The fire department said it was prepared to close up to 20% of its fire companies and have 20% fewer ambulances in service while also changing schedules, canceling vacations and turning to outside EMS providers to make up for expected staffing shortages.