Public Safety Employees Rally Against Boston Mayor’s Vaccine Mandate

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Firefighters, cops, and emergency medical technicians rallied against Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s vaccine mandate on Wednesday.

“Making it that we either get the vaccine or we lose our jobs is not how we’re going to stop this pandemic,” said Shana Cottone, president of Boston First Responders United, which organized the rally outside the Massachusetts State House, according to State House News Service. “We need to find a middle ground, a compromise that actually does stop COVID and also ensures that all of our city services are fully staffed because you are going to compound the problem of a pandemic with quality of life issues.”

The new mayor has implemented a January 15 deadline for getting the first shot, with a February 15 deadline for getting the second shot. Weekly testing is not an option. City employees who don’t comply could be fired.

Also starting January 15, anyone entering an indoor facility in Boston such as a restaurant, bar, or health club will be required to show proof of vaccination or be denied entry, under Wu’s new policy. The policy includes a mask requirement indoors, as well.

Rally-goers on Wednesday, January 5 carried signs saying “Masks Don’t Save Lives” and “They Actually Hinder Your Own Breathing,” according to State House News Service. Some chanted “Wu has no heart.” A band sang “No More Mandates” to what State House News Service described as “a grungy tune.”

Boston First Responders United retweeted on its Twitter account a video of marchers and onlookers singing “The Star Spangled Banner” on Hanover Street in the North End of Boston, followed by a chant of “U-S-A.” The video was posted by Louis L. Murray Jr. on his Twitter account.

Wu was heckled when she first announced the new coronavirus rules on December 20 at Boston City Hall, at times being hard to hear over protesters, as this YouTube video shows.

At one point she stepped a few feet in front of the podium so she could hear a question from a reporter.

When she returned to the podium, Wu said:


The question was around how the city will be supporting our small businesses with enforcement, especially given feedback about how sometimes challenging it can be to enforce the mask mandate already.

So, we are – we’ve learned a tremendous amount from our partners in New York City and other places. Cities across the country are already implementing this. And once it gets to the point that it is part of the culture, part of the standard expectation, there’s much less direct – ahhm – challenge in, in compliance.


During the mid-afternoon of Wednesday, January 5, Wu blamed unvaccinated people for the state government’s restrictions on certain non-emergency surgeries during the surge in coronavirus cases.

“Gaps in vaccination rates are affecting everyone. Those who are unvaccinated, of course, who are ending up as 90 percent of the most intensive and at-risk hospitalizations. But also everyone else who might need care at any other point. If you are looking to get a hip replacement, if you have some other procedure that has been bothering you but is not an emergency, these are getting pushed back, and we are seeing the ripple effects on everyone as we drag this out without closing vaccination rates,” Wu said after a tour of Tufts Medical Center in the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston.

Asked by a reporter if she had any response to the anti-vaccination-mandate protesters from earlier in the day, Wu didn’t answer directly, but she praised medical staff dealing with what she called “preventable illness.”

“And so anything that we can do to make their lives easier, to boost vaccination rates, to keep every single person in our community safe, is what we can best do to take care of each other,” Wu said.

Massachusetts saw 376 deaths attributed to coronavirus during the last two weeks of December 2021, according to state Department of Public Health data, including 23 in Suffolk County, which includes the city of Boston. Statewide, the average age of death between December 19, 2021 and January 1, 2022 was 73, according to state figures published Wednesday, January 5.


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