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NYC firefighters protest at the mayor's home over vaccine mandate as deadline looms

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro speaks during a protest outside the Gracie Mansion against the coming COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers on Thursday in New York.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro speaks during a protest outside the Gracie Mansion against the coming COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers on Thursday in New York.

Updated October 28, 2021 at 3:34 PM ET

New York City firefighters took their protests over the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the residence of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday.

The mayor approved a vaccine mandate that, beginning Nov. 1, forces all public employees in the city to get a coronavirus vaccine or risk losing their jobs. Most city workers need to show proof that they have received at least one dose of vaccine by 5 p.m. Friday.

"This is a personal choice everyone wants to make for themselves," Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, told Fox News earlier. He said the union plans to file a lawsuit over the mandate.

Ansbro, who said he is vaccinated himself, said that up to 45% of the New York City's Fire Department could lose their jobs over the vaccine mandate.

He estimated that around 70% of the department's workers contracted the coronavirus during the pandemic. He said that with more than half of the department's firefighters vaccinated and a large portion having had the virus before, that they "are covered" and protected from the coronavirus.

Opposition to the city's vaccine mandates extends beyond the firefighters. Over the weekend, thousands of New York City employees took to the streets in protest.

Teachers, police and other public employees in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington are fighting similar battles over these rules.

This is all despite statistics showing that the coronavirus has been the leading cause of death for police officers during the pandemic.

Ansbro has blamed de Blasio for what may turn out to be a massive shortage of first responders.

"We've been here every day of the pandemic and we will still be here on Nov. 1," Ansbro told a local CBS affiliate this weekend. "It'll be the mayor that separates you from New York City residents and what happens to them will be on him, and not on us."

The mayor said the city has backup plans to ensure city services continue, including using overtime if staffing shortages occur.

A similar lawsuit submitted by the city's police department failed earlier this week. A state judge denied the New York City Police Benevolent Association's request for a temporary ban on the implementation of the mandate for police officers.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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