First responders tell 'Fox & Friends' vaccine mandates could make staff shortages worse

EMS workers fear vaccine mandate will lead to further staffing crunch

Wells, Maine Fire Chief Mark Dupuis and President of Local Firefighters 740 Chris Thomson on vaccine mandates sparking shortages in already overwhelmed staff.

First responders in Maine voiced concern Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate could lead to further staffing shortages

“Well, my fears are that people who have decided not to get the vaccine for many reasons won’t get the vaccine so we’re not really talking about a mandate that’s going to get all of our people vaccinated. We’re talking about a mandate going to get rid of people who are not vaccinated. That’s not really the same thing,” the president of Local Firefighters 740 Chris Thomson told “Fox & Friends.”

Thomson warned that a vaccine mandate could strain the organization’s staff with “mandatory overtime.” He also added that the firefighters are “already stressed.”

After serving the public for a year and a half, Thomson said that there has been no “work-related exposures” to the public, therefore, the firefighters do not “pose any risk” since they are wearing N95 masks.

“We know we are not passing the virus. So, my fear is that these people are going to walk out of principle. Our job is what people with strong principles gravitate towards. As I don’t think some will buckle on it. I think they will walk.”

President Biden leaned into the new FDA licensure, or full approval, of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, encouraging businesses to require vaccinations among employees.

“Today I’m calling on more companies…in the private sector to step up the vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people,” Biden said. “If you’re a business leader, a non-profit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that… do what I did last month, requiring employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements.”

Biden touted full FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, calling it a “key milestone in our nation’s fight against COVID,” and urged unvaccinated individuals to receive their shots amid rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant driving infections nationwide.

The president noted an accelerated vaccination pace, with one million shots administered each day across three consecutive days last week, figures not seen since June, and a 56% uptick in the vaccination rate over the last month. The U.S. also logged 6 million vaccinations in the last seven days, the highest seven-day total in over a month and a half.

In recent weeks, the Biden administration has rolled out vaccine requirements among federal workers, members of the armed forces, federal medical facilities and nursing home workers. 

Wells, Maine Fire Chief Mark Dupuis said that four firefighters in his department have already vowed not to get the vaccine.

“Our department consists of three shifts of four personnel so each shift is support and I have four individuals who have chosen not to vaccinate and I believe as he has said that they will walk when this time comes,” Dupuis said.

“It’s not a matter of making them vaccinated, it’s a matter of them stepping off the job. It’s more important to them that they protect their rights and that they not have to have that vaccination,” Dupuis said.

FOX Business’ Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.

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