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L.A. firefighters might be required to get COVID-19 vaccine, Garcetti warns

A Los Angeles fire inspector is given a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at Station 4 on Dec. 28.
Firefighter paramedic Matthew Kovar, left, administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to fire inspector Gabriel Orona at the Los Angeles Fire Department Station 4 on Dec. 28.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Amid reports that some Los Angeles firefighters are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccination, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday that he would “potentially” make the vaccination mandatory if firefighters remain reluctant in a few months.

“It’s something that we’re talking about, especially those who will be interacting with the public,” Garcetti said, adding that other city workers could also face mandatory vaccinations.

Garcetti said that people will likely have an incentive to take the vaccine as the economy reopens.

“For instance, you probably can’t get in Dodger Stadium for the first games if you haven’t been vaccinated, go to concerts, do some of the things that are part of what we do,” he said.

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Many teachers, grocers and even some hospital employees are wary of the COVID-19 vaccine and don’t want it. The question of mandatory vaccine requirements by employers is complicated.

The Times reported last week that some firefighters are turning down the vaccine, with some saying they don’t feel comfortable being among the first to take it.

Other firefighters say they have already been infected and feel as if they don’t need it.

Ralph Terrazas, chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department, has said that he’ll be watching the vaccination numbers and would consider making the shot mandatory after the vaccine receives authorization for broader use from federal regulators.

The LAFD has resorted to prizes for those who get vaccinated. Vaccinated firefighters get entered into a raffle where the gifts include Canary home security cameras, Google Nest entertainment systems, Aventon fixed-gear bicycles and gift cards for Airbnb and Lyft.

The gifts will be funded by the LAFD Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money to support the department, according to a memo distributed by Terrazas.


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