LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Several paid firefighters with Doña Ana County oppose the mandatory vaccine requirement for first responders, according to the union.
"We should be given a choice," said Travis Simpson, president of the Doña Ana County Professional Firefighters Association. "It's like saying, ‘Am I willing to sacrifice financial security or stand up for what I believe in?’"
As ABC-7 reported in early February, the county sent out a memo dated January 29th requiring all paid first responders to get the vaccine as a "condition of on-going employment." Scroll down to read it.
”I would just call upon anyone - the very small number of people that are so resistant to receiving the vaccine - to remember their role as public servants," said County Manager Fernando Macias.
Simpson said after the county issued the directive, first responders had less than a week to register for the vaccine.
He also was frustrated that volunteer firefighters were not required to register, but Macias said there are currently not enough vaccines available for the 102 active volunteers.
According to the union, half of the 31 paid firefighters in Doña Ana County signed up to receive the vaccine when it was voluntary. He said the others had to choose between honoring their beliefs or keeping their jobs.
‘You either have to decide you want to be able to provide for your family and keep your career or stand up for what you believe in," Simpson said.
Macias told ABC-7 that as of Friday, only five firefighters had yet to receive the vaccine. He said the county did grant several exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
"(First responders) have an obligation to the community," Macias said. "They have an obligation to the public for them to take care of their own health and the health of the community."