middleton rally

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: While Mayor de Blasio and his aides offered assurances that the city would not give a vaccine for the coronavirus to employees without doing their own vetting beyond that done by the Federal Government, Communications Workers of America Local 1180 President Gloria Middleton wasn't convinced. 'There are so many questions now, that to tell you the truth I don't know if I would take the vaccine at this point,' she said.

While officials maintain a vaccine for COVID-19 that can be distributed is still months away, both Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have said that health-care workers and first-responders will be the first ones here to receive it.

For months President Trump has pledged to deliver a vaccine at "warp speed" with a target date close to Election Day.

 

White House Pressure

News reports have documented behind-the-scenes pressures from the White House on both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to align their findings with Mr. Trump's efforts to downplay the virus and speed approval of a vaccine.

Experts say the increasingly partisan nature of the debate about the pandemic and how to deal with it has undermined public confidence in any vaccine that the Federal Government might offer.

That was borne out in the workplace health survey of Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers conducted by the NYU School of Global Public Health in cooperation with Transport Workers Union Local 100.

Only 31 percent of the respondents said they would trust whatever vaccine was offered, with another 38 percent undecided.

In his Oct. 22 press briefing, Mayor de Blasio pledged that "we are not going to accept a vaccine unless it is thoroughly vetted by the medical community." 

'Will Be 100% Sure'

"We are not going to treat anybody as less than as a valued civil servant. We are not going to do something unless we are 100 percent sure. That means the state and the city together are going to be vetting any vaccine."

He continued, "We obviously need to make sure that once we have a truly effective vaccine, that it's as widely utilized as possible. And I believe the vast majority of people, and the vast majority of public servants, want a vaccine to protect themselves and their families."

He said he would take the vaccine himself as a show of good faith.

Dr. Jay Varma, one of the nation's leading epidemiologists and the Mayor's top coronavirus adviser, said public skepticism was to be expected with Mr. Trump's reference to "Operation Warp Speed." 

"Whatever vaccine that becomes available must be safe and it must be effective," he told reporters. "The Governor has announced a task force of experts. We on our health-leadership team here have also been planning on how we are going to review and evaluate that information."

Won't Force Anyone 

City Corporation Counsel James Johnson also addressed having first-responders and health-care workers be the first to receive the vaccine, saying, "The idea of compulsion for a vaccine is not something, as far as I know, that is on the table."

Gloria Middleton, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1180, which represents thousands of Administrative Managers, including employees with NYC Health + Hospitals, lost members in the pandemic who were required to work on site during the peak of the pandemic.

She said during a phone interview, "First of all, I want to know that it is safe. We are hearing all kinds of stories about them fast-tracking it. Are they trying to bypass FDA approval? Who was the test group? You can't just test something on young people and give it as a vaccine to older people. And what about people with preexisting conditions? Is the vaccine going to work for them? There are so many questions right now, that to tell you the truth I don't know if I would take the vaccine at this point."


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