2,000 firefighters take medical leave as vaccine mandate takes effect in New York City

More than 2,000 New York City firefighters took medical leave this past week as the deadline for showing proof of full vaccination has passed and city workers who failed to comply with the mandate now face being placed on unpaid leave.

New York City Fire Department (NYFD) Deputy Commissioner Frank Dwyer called the number of firefighter who have called out sick "very unusual," according to an NBC News report.

NYFD Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro lambasted workers who are taking part in a "sickout" to protest the mandate.

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"Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow Firefighters," Nigro said, according to NBC. "They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions."

Nigro also shot down reports that the lack of working firefighters has caused firehouses to be closed down, saying the department "has not closed any firehouses."

GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.) claimed that 26 firehouses had been forced to close due to the vaccine mandate.

New York City Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City The real 'threat to democracy'? Pols who polarize us with their opinions Five faces from the media who became political candidates MORE's (D) vaccine mandate has faced opposition from city workers, with thousands taking part in a protest against the measure last week.

Andrew Ansbro, head of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the union that represents FDNY firefighters, said last week he had instructed union members to defy the mandate.

"I have told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," Ansbro said. "If they are told they cannot work, it will be the department and city of New York that sends them home. And it will be the department and the city of New York that has failed to protect the citizens of New York."

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On Saturday, it was reported that more than 26,000 New York City public workers have yet to show proof of vaccination after the Oct. 29 deadline had passed.

However, de Blasio expressed optimism on Saturday, tweeting that 91 percent of city workers were vaccinated.