But as officials in some areas of the country see more health care workers than expected declining the vaccine, whats the city doing to make sure its firefighters are willing to take the shots?
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that up to 50% of health care workers in some areas, like Riverside County, have opted out of taking the vaccine because of concerns about side effects, worries about going first or simple skepticism of science.
The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly affirmed the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are safe and effective.
Long Beach says its fared better so farwith 75% of workers in the health care field already vaccinated as of Wednesday with more shots still to be rolled out.
Most firefighters, paramedics and EMTswho are part of that grouphave been getting the vaccine when offered, according to Long Beach health director Kelly Colopy.
Were not seeing a high amount of declination currently in our emergency service providers, she said during a briefing Wednesday.
However, if a firefighter does opt out, they can remain on the job.
Vaccinations are not mandated, though the City strongly encourages its employees to protect themselves by getting the COVID-19 vaccine when its their turn, said Jennifer Rice Epstein, a spokeswoman for the city. All City employees, whether they are vaccinated or not, will continue to practice physical distancing wherever possible, wear face coverings and take other precautions against the virus.
In Los Angeles, the Fire Department has taken to handing out raffle tickets to entice firefightersoffering them a chance of winning prizes like Airbnb gift cards, bikes and entertainment systems if they accept the shot, according to the LA Times.
LBFD Capt. Jack Crabtree said his department hasnt resorted to anything like that, but they did make sure to snap a picture of the fire chief and head of the firefighters union being vaccinated this week.
Leading by example, the department said in a tweet with the photos.
Crabtree, who said he got the shot with no ill-effects except a little soreness in his arm, said the department was scheduled to finish offering the vaccine to all of its firefighters by the end of Thursday.
Numbers werent immediately available on how many had declined, but Mayor Robert Garcia said Wednesday that the rate of local health care workers opting out was, so far, lower than other areas of the state.
Staff writer Valerie Osier contributed to this report.
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