Is a wave of illness in NYC really a vaccine-mandate sickout? (includes video story)

From New York to California, police and fire agencies are taking a stand against Covid-19 vaccine mandates. In New York City about 2,300 firefighters have called out sick following a mandate that went into effect on Monday.

Some believe the wave of absences was a planned protest, but Edward Kelly, general president of the International Association of Firefighters, denies the claim.

“The assertion that thousands of firefighters are faking our medical leave, we reject. The staffing issues in this city are not germane to medical leave,” Kelly said at a news conference yesterday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio warns there will be consequences.

“The folks who are faking it — are doing an immense disservice to the people of this city and to their fellow members of service.” de Blasio said during an interview on Spectrum NY1, adding, “We will make sure there are consequences for that.”

Despite the pushback over mandates, de Blasio says they’re effective.

In the last 13 days, 24,000 more city workers got the shot and about 92-percent of city employees have received at least one dose.

So far, less than 3-percent of the city’s workforce is on unpaid leave for refusing to comply. The Mayor says there hasn’t been any service disruption and insists New Yorkers are safe.

On the other coast, Los Angeles County’s Sheriff Alex Villanueva refuses to enforce a vaccine mandate on county employees. Villanueva fears a shortage of employees in a department that is already understaffed.

“We have to provide public safety, and right now I’m severely understaffed as it is,” he says. “To throw this on top of that, you’re really tempting the hand of fate.”

In the days to come, a new labor department rule will mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for private businesses with 100 or more employees.

Deniel Dookan is a senior at Florida International University majoring in broadcast media with a minor in psychology. She aspires to become a news anchor in South Florida.