Community Decisions: I Took the Risk

This article is a part of a series written by the 10th grade Dem. Roots classes called Community Decisions. This article is written by Ayla Dyer.


Covid shattered the world. Could a vaccine fix it all? Could it be that simple? 


When the pandemic started many people worked from home. The New York Fire Department was still hard at work in the real world. Being protected from the raging virus sounded delightful. But when the opportunity came the choice didn’t seem so clear. 


14 years ago John Loennecker took an oath while becoming a New York City firefighter. When we take the job you take an oath to serve the people and the city, good or bad.” This oath applies till the day you retire. So when the pandemic hit firefighters had to “serve the people and the city, good or bad.” 




In the first few months of the pandemic, New York City was having upwards of 2,000 Covid-19 cases per day. While that was happening John still had to go to work. “When I signed on for this job. I took the risk.” John stated, “But, my family didn’t take the risk.” John has a wife and two young kids at home. Bringing Covid-19 home to his family was a worry John had when he would go to work. 


Since almost everyone in New York City has the same fear as John Loennecker, actions had to be taken to keep people safe. In mid-October of 2021 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio mandated COVID-19 vaccines for New York workers. According to ABC7 NY in October 2021 79% of New York FireFighters have received at least their first shot. 


 John Loennecker was part of the 21% of New York Firefighters questioning getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Workers who don’t get the Covid-19 vaccine will be put on unpaid leave until they receive their first dose. A hard choice had to be made “I was forced to choose between losing my job… or going against my personal beliefs.” 



John Loenncker didn’t want to get the vaccine. It was against his personal beliefs. He stated, “I feel strongly about bodily autonomy and personal choice of what I put in my body.” If John did not comply with this mandate he would face termination. When forced to choose between his personal beliefs and the job he loved and that provided for his family, John had a big decision to make.


While John was questioning getting the vaccine and weighing the pros and cons of each side. He stated, “ I am not anti vax, I’m anti mandate.” While keeping everybody safe is very important, a mandate seemed to be too much for John’s beliefs. 


 After much thought John “received the vaccine under duress in early October 2021.” Now John Loennecker joins the 79+% of firefighters who have received their vaccine. As covid surges around the world… This might be a solution. 


Mask or Vaccine… which would you choose?

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