Biden Backs COVID Vaccine Mandate for Firefighters as Controversy Roils Departments

President Joe Biden Thursday endorsed local government mandates that require first responders to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations.

President Joe Biden Thursday endorsed local government mandates that require first responders to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations or be forced to stay home or lose their jobs.

The president said that the majority of people facing mandatory vaccination orders complied. Making vaccination into an issue of personal freedom, he said, was akin to giving people “the freedom to kill you with my COVID.”

Biden made the remarks in an interview on CNN as fire departments around the country wrestle with the best way to handle employees who are reluctant to obtain a vaccination for religious or personal reasons.

New York City this week became one of the latest municipalities to mandate COVID-19 vaccines while some firefighters in Chicago, Washington state and elsewhere balk at mandatory vaccinations.

In Florida, controversy erupted in Orange County when Battalion Chief Stephen Davis was fired for refusing to punish firefighters for not getting vaccinated. That story rose to national prominence when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered by some to be a 2024 presidential contender, jumped to Davis’ defense. DeSantis, a Republican, pledged to call the state legislature into special session to protect employees who decline vaccinations.

In other jurisdictions, meanwhile, departments are making accommodations for unvaccinated employees, allowing them to remain on the job with additional protections and testing measures.

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