San Francisco's employee vaccination mandate is generating controversy and the pushback is growing.
Nearly 200 city workers say they won't get vaccinated unless their demands are met, including proving the vaccine won't give them COVID-19, and many of those employees are first responders.
“I think we're at a disadvantage with all the toxins we are exposed to at fire. High cancer numbers among fire fighters,” said a San Francisco firefighter who did not want to be identified.
He said he will not get the COVID-19 vaccine and believes the city's mandate requiring employees to be vaccinated is unlawful.
He's not alone.
San Francisco's Human Resources Department said it has received this conditional acceptance letter from nearly 200 employees, demanding the city prove 41 items -- including the vaccine won't give them COVID and city leaders aren't practicing medicine without a license.
Human resources says 103 of the letters came from employees at the fire department.
UCSF Infectious Disease Doctor Peter Chin-Hong said the best approach to vaccine hesitancy is listening.
“If it is a deeply held belief around science or politics I can address that,” he said. “There are a myriad of reasons so it depends on what people are telling me but starting with curiosity and empathy really go a long way.”
In a statement human resources says, "We are working with all city departments, employees and union partners to answer any questions about COVID-19 and the highly transmissible delta variant. We will continue our robust outreach to every employee to ensure that they know that infections and deaths from covid are preventable and that vaccines are readily available, safe, effective, and the only way to end the pandemic.”
Union leaders for the sheriff's department say they have over 150 members prepared to leave because of the mandate. Some firefighters are expected to join them.
“There's no talk of compromise it's you do this or you're gone and it's unfortunate and it saddens me to leave this job but I will,” said the firefighter.
NBC Bay Area reached out to the fire administration and union leadership for reaction Monday but didn't hear back.