FDNY to Begin Offering H1N1 Vaccine To 1st Responders

Newsday - November 05, 2009

by PERVAIZ SHALLWANI

The FDNY Thursday begins offering swine flu immunization to its 14,000 first responders after the department secured around 6,000 doses.

Officials said, as in years past with the seasonal flu vaccine, most first responders are expected to decline it. The department is offering the vaccine through Sunday to front-line personnel at 10 locations and three mobile units across the five boroughs.

"It's a hot-button topic U.S.- wide," FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer said of the H1N1 vaccine. "We are not forcing anyone to do it. We are comfortable that we have enough to meet demand, but if we need more, we will be able to get it."

The immunizations are part of an initiative by the FDNY to stay prepared in case of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incidents, the department said.

The NYPD has ordered 35,000 doses and so far received about 5,000 of them, a police spokeswoman said.

Emergency service workers are on the "priority" list for swine flu immunization that also includes front-line health- care workers, pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months, children and young adults 6 months to 24 years old and adults ages 25-64.

Suffolk and Nassau counties conduct similar exercises for its first responders, but so far have not received the number of vaccines needed, officials said.

Unlike the FDNY, most departments on Long Island have independent physicians and ordered vaccines independently from the state, county officials said.