IAFC urges fire chiefs to advocate mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of fire, EMS personnel
"A vaccination ensures that our personnel 'do no harm' to those who call upon us," reads the association's position statement
By Janelle Foskett
CHANTILLY, Va. — The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is encouraging all fire chiefs to advocate for the mandatory vaccination of all of their fire and EMS department personnel against the COVID-19 virus by an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine.
The association on Tuesday released its position statement on COVID-19 vaccinations, which reads, in part:
Vaccines have historically proven successful since their introduction through increased protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and even death. But vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations do. A vaccination provides our fire and EMS personnel with individual protection from exposure by others, but just as importantly, a vaccination ensures that our personnel “do no harm” to those who call upon us for emergency services.
As the fire service is the largest provider of EMS in North America, and in consideration of the extreme dangers facing fire and EMS personnel during this ongoing public health emergency, the IAFC Board of Directors affirms the following recommendation for all federal, state, provincial, territorial, and local government fire and EMS chiefs:
Upon the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the IAFC calls upon all fire chiefs to advocate for the mandatory vaccination of all of their fire and EMS department personnel against the COVID-19 virus by an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine, except for those who cannot be vaccinated due to qualified medical conditions or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. Additionally, the IAFC recommends that fire chiefs collaborate with their occupational and public health partners to identify the most expeditious means for their fire and EMS department personnel to obtain the vaccination.
The statement also highlights that 213 fire and EMS personnel have died and thousands more have been infected and/or quarantined, driven by members' unique position on the front lines of the virus: “Repeated studies have shown that fire and EMS personnel can be up to 15 times more likely than the public to contract COVID-19, and are one of the most vulnerable classes of healthcare providers in terms of workplace exposures to COVID-19.”
The statement concludes that the IAFC is committed to the health and safety of fire and EMS personnel: "We will continue to focus on fire and EMS personnel safety and advocate for mission-critical funding and equipment to assist fire chiefs in continuing to provide life-saving emergency services to their communities in the face of the economic impact and revenue loss they have suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic."