More than 2,000 New York City first responders are taking medical leave as the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal employees went into effect. According to New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, many people are calling in sick to protest the vaccine mandate. 

"If you're sick, you're sick. It's a dangerous job. I get it. If you're not sick, I want to see you back at work," Nigro said. "Once the members come to their senses and stop using medical leave improperly, they can help out not only the citizens of the city but their brothers and sisters who are staffing these units," Nigro said.

Typically, 800-1,00 fire department employees call in sick on any given day, FDNY spokesperson Jim Long told CNN

Similarly, CNN reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio said 9,000 city employees are on leave without pay as of Monday, out of a workforce of 378,000, for not complying with vaccine mandate regulations. Although city officials were worried about employee shortages in the fire and police departments, de Blasio said public safety had not been compromised.

Those who are inappropriately using sick leave in the fire department or any other department are putting other people's lives in danger, de Blasio said. 

Ahead of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline, members of the NYC Fire Department protested, carrying signs that read, "Essential Workers aren't Disposable Heros (sic)," "My Body My Choice," and "#Natural Immunity."