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Lack of Natural Immunity Exemption ‘Nothing Short of Tyrannical’ Says First Responder at NYC Mandatory Vaccination Protest

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: October 27, 2021
Protests in New York City over Bill de Blasio's vaccine mandate, which does not have a natural immunity exemption.
Thousands of New York frontline workers and first responders took to the streets to protest Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate set to come into effect at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29. Those who do not prove they are vaccinated will be put on unpaid leave. Some estimates say the number affected could be as high as 50,000 people. (Image: Peter Svab/The Epoch Times)

Thousands of New York City teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other frontline, essential workers marched through the streets in protest of a looming deadline issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio to prove their vaccination status or be placed on unpaid leave. Many say they are frustrated because they developed natural immunity during their tenure serving in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video of the event published by The New York Times showed large crowds carrying American flags, chanting “no vaccine mandates” and the trending political inside joke “Let’s go Brandon!

ABC7 reports the City has set a hard deadline of 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29 for employees to reveal their vaccination status, and that as many as 50,000 of New York’s 160,000 public employees are facing unpaid leave.

“It’s time now. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you’ll be put on unpaid leave. Well, the vast majority of human beings go to work to get paid. And also, I think for a lot of our first responders, there’s a calling. They believe in the work, they care about the work. Those two factors I think are going to cause the vast majority to get vaccinated,” said de Blasio.

FDNY Captain Jason Wendell took issue with being handed a choice between compulsory vaccination or losing his career because of the issue of natural immunity, “New York City firefighters and police officers have been exposed for the last 20 months to COVID-19. Most of us have gotten the sickness and gotten over it perfectly well and have natural immunity,” he told the The Epoch Times.

FDNY Captain Jason Wendell speaks of natural immunity exemptions at a vaccine mandate protest in New York City on Oct. 26, 2021.
FDNY Captain Jason Wendell spoke of the virtues of natural immunity in comments given to the media at an Oct. 26 rally against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for city workers. (Image: Sarah Lu/The Epoch Times)

“The fact that the mayor and politicians are not acknowledging that the vast majority of us are already naturally immune is nothing short of tyrannical.”

Wendell’s assertion is not without scientific merit. A September Department of Defense-backed, artificial intelligence powered examination of data from 5.6 million Medicare beneficiaries aged 65+ modeled the risk of vaccine breakthroughs resulting in hospitalization, finding that prior COVID diagnosis had by far the lowest odds ratio.

“Prior COVID-19 infection has a major protective effect against breakthrough hospitalization,” read the report.

A similar study from Israel in August examining health records from one of the country’s four mandatory health care providers found those who had taken the Pfizer vaccine without a previous positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test were at 27 times greater risk of symptomatic breakthrough infection than those who were unvaccinated but had a previous positive test. 

Wendell also cautioned that the removal of tens of thousands of city workers from their duties would bring chaos, “The city will become much more unsafe without first responders and police officers and sanitation workers keeping the city functioning, this will have a tremendous negative impact on the people of New York as you push out these workers from service.”

The natural immunity concern was not isolated to rank-and-file members. Oren Barzilay, President of New York’s EMS Union, gave similar comments to ABC7, “All our members were exposed to this disease and we developed our natural immunity.”

“If we have the natural antibodies in our body, is it necessary to really inject something else into our body? When it’s still early. It’s only 10 months into it, the vaccination process.”

Retired FDNY Lt. James Finnegan told CBS Local first responders felt “betrayed” by de Blasio’s mandate and comments, “He doesn’t remember that when it started a year and a half ago, we worked through it all. OK? I got my family sick.”

“This is not ‘following the science;’ this is like totalitarianism.”

“Really, what they’re doing is forcing their will on people at this point, and that’s what I’m against,” said Finnegan. “I don’t really have a problem with people taking the vaccine, if that’s what they want to do.”

NYPD, FDNY, teachers, and other public employees at an Oct. 26 New York City protest against mandatory vaccination
Thousands of New York City firefighters, teachers, police officers, and other city employees made their voices heard against the threat of being placed on unpaid leave on Oct. 29 unless they accept vaccination. (Image: Sarah Lu/The Epoch Times)

Some teachers who attended the protest also voiced their worries about the upcoming push to vaccinate all children aged 5 to 11. Jessica Castellon, a pre-kindergarten special and general educator told Epoch Times, “I don’t believe experimental drugs should be mandated on children whose physical development and cognitive development is still unrolling. We don’t know the long-term effects of this on children.” 

“We don’t know the long-term effects of this on adults who already have fully formed functioning bodies. We don’t know what this will do to the children and we cannot afford to have America’s future generation imperiled by a drug, just to [line] the pockets of the politicians and those in Pfizer, Moderna, and all the other pharmaceutical companies.”

On Oct. 26, the FDA’s 18-person Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 17 in favor and one abstention to recommend the pediatric dose of Pfizer’s gene therapy messenger RNA vaccine be rolled out to children aged 5 to 11. 

During the meeting, which was conducted online, panelist Eric Rubin said, “We’re never gonna learn about how safe the vaccine is until we start giving it.”

“That’s just the way it goes. That’s how we found out about rare complications of other vaccines…”

Earlier in the month, an anonymous firefighter in Chicago told Epoch Times that a similar move enacted in his city was effective at forcing vaccination because if a worker was placed on leave, gets vaccinated, and wants to return “they have to be processed by the city’s HR office, and that could take a very long time.”

“And if a member is off work for more than 30 days, then their insurance will get suspended and they will have no pay/insurance for an unknown period of time.”