EXCLUSIVE: San Francisco firefighters 'cattle call' for booster mandate shots
Will be fired if don't obey COVID booster mandate by Feb. 1
San Francisco firefighter came to work on Monday expecting the increased call volume from an overwhelmed system, with an increasing drug and homeless problem. Instead, they were told their engine company had to directly to the Division of Training (DOT) facility.
“I walked in, and they said, ‘You take a booster today or sign this. And you’re taking in two weeks, or you're fired,’” said one member of the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. I’ll call him Jack.
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“When I found out they were going to shove the booster down my throat, I got angry,” said Jack.
He refused and was forced to sign a document that said he was denying it temporarily. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Every few months they say they’re going to fire me if I don’t get another shot.”
The spokesman for SFFD did not respond to requests for comment.
**To get caught up, read my story from last week: San Francisco declares vaccine booster mandate for police and firefighters
“I witnessed a cattle call — so many of the guys were surprised. They hadn’t thought it through before we got there,” Jack said.
The cattle call on Monday was alarming for many firefighters. According to two sources, the second chief in command and the third chief in command were there while the companies come through. One firefighter said that the department was forcing the boosters through “intimidation and coercion.”
“They tell us, ‘You have to get this shot to keep your job,’” said another firefighter. “Well, people have families and worked their whole life to do this. They don’t have another trade. So they’re all thinking, I have to get the shot because what else am I going to do?”
After feeling powerless on Monday, the firefighters organized a survey for themselves overnight. They lined up a contact person in all ten battalions, then had a contact person at each station. I obtained the survey results on Tuesday night after 600 out of approximately 1,600 had responded:
Have you already received a COVID booster?
Yes: 242 yes
If not, would you like to receive it?
Already took it: 174
Do you feel that a booster should be mandated for all SFFD personnel?
So more than half of the firefighters who took the survey do not want to get a booster vaccine. Why doesn’t the city listen to them?
The Mayor, London Breed, knows there’s a major staffing shortage from omicron.
So why does she want to fire her veteran firefighters over a shot that will have no impact on public health?
The general order for the booster mandate (an internal document that I uploaded below in sources) came on Jan. 7 from Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson. Read my story on how the chief is fully vaxxed and boosted and got COVID over Christmas. She ordered:
Assistant Chiefs shall schedule companies to be detailed to the [DOT] each day to get all members boosted.
After the strong-arm tactic, the memo says the SFFD is “holding booster clinics” this week and next at the training location and another station house.
It says that “Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be available.” I’ve asked the city’s various spokesmen why Pfizer isn’t available for those who were vaccinated with it.
The firefighters are ordered— see below— not to contact the department’s physician, Dr. Jennifer Brokaw, for medical advice about the booster.
I asked the department spokesman for comment on not allowing contact with Dr. Brokaw. (Yes, she is NBC’s Tom Brokaw’s daughter.) He did not respond.
Once they have been boosted, they are told to fill out an online form that is not secured, so I’m not linking to it. I put some screencaps below. They have to fill out all the identity information, plus race, “last does date” and “dose brand.”
These are the consequences of refusing the third dose:
Permanent Civil Service members shall receive a ten (10) day suspension.
Members in acting, probationary, and non-civil service exempt positions shall be reverted to their permanent civil service rank.
New probationary hires shall be terminated.
Continued non-compliance with this policy may lead to additional disciplinary action including termination. “Employees who do not comply with the Health Order and obtain timely vaccination may be subject to non-disciplinary separation from City service.”
The booster mandate is coming from Mayor Breed via the city health department and is implemented by human resources. I’ve tried getting answers from all those offices on what is the justification for forcing vaccines that don’t stop COVID infection and losing their best firefighters for this fool’s errand. Nobody responds.
A firefighter who is on leave blames the city’s elite politicians.
“All the people making the policies weren't even working in the field during the COVID period. We had no PPE, no masks. I wore the same N95 for months,” he told me. Now he says those frontline heroes during COVID are being “kicked to the curb” over the vaccines.
This is what San Francisco politicians are doing to first responders during a severe staffing shortage in a pandemic: force brave firefighters to get unnecessary third vaccine shots.
It’s not American.
Update 1/13 10pm
Since I’ve been writing these stories on San Francisco Fire and Police, I’ve been told by their spokesmen to refer all COVID and vaccine mandate questions to the Department of Public Health or the Human Resources Department. I’ve also been asking the Mayor’s office for a response to these stories since these are her policies. I never got an emails back from them, so this time, I tried emailing all of them together and that worked.
Mawuli Tugbenyoh, Deputy Director of Policy and External Affairs for the Department of Human Resources responded to my questions, so I’m going to put them below for you to read in full.
QUESTION: In an internal survey, half of the SFFD said they don't want to get booster shots. What is your response?
Tugbenyoh: If there was a survey, it was not a city or department originated survey, we can not speak to the content or responses.
QUESTION: The general order from the chief told the SFFD not to contact the physician's office for questions on the booster. Is there a reason they can't get medical advice before getting a vaccine to keep their jobs? Do you have an alternative doctor they can speak to for medical questions?
Tugbenyoh: DHR has established a 24 hour nurse advice line for all City employees to support them with any questions about COVID-19 or any of the available vaccinations to fight it. Employees may also contact own health care provider with these questions. While several departments have in house physicians to support their employees with medical concerns including questions about COVID-19. These offices are not a place to inquire about merits of state or city policy.
QUESTION: Why isn't the Pfizer booster available for those who got the Pfizer vaccine?
Tugbenyoh: The Pfizer vaccine is approved by the FDA and widely available as a boosters.
I followed up to show him the general order from the fire chief that says “Both Monderna and Johnson & Johnson will be available.” I’ll update again when I hear back.
QUESTION: What is the purpose of the booster since it is not stopping infection, spread, or stopping staffing shortages?
Tugbenyoh: I would direct you to the extensive information and science provided by our public health department and the CDC. You can find guidance, FAQs, studies, PowerPoint presentations and more on these pages.
QUESTION: Why does the city want to fire its veteran firefighters over a shot that will have no impact on public health?
Tugbenyoh: Need additional evidence or information regarding this statement.