COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Calls to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to law enforcement are growing.
As of now, police officers aren’t in the groups eligible for the shot. Leaders of some agencies in central Ohio hope that changes soon.
Columbus Interim Police Chief Michael Woods and Delaware County Sheriff Russell L. Martin want officers to have the chance to get the shot, saying it’s to keep their officers and community safe.
“We’re not whining, we’re not complaining,” Martin said. “We’re just advocating they be considered critical with the citizens they deal with.”
Martin hopes the vaccines will soon be going into the arms of police, deputies, and other law enforcement.
“I certainly understand the limited resource of the vaccine and all of law enforcement wants to see our most vulnerable and essential employees be administered the vaccine as soon as possible,” he said. “But when that availability becomes present, I certainly think law enforcement, first responders, corrections officers ought to be moved up in the queue as soon as possible.”
This week, Martin tweeted about vaccinations for teachers going well and getting back to school. In the same message, he said law enforcement and corrections officers have been going to work every day during the pandemic and they need the vaccine now.
“Our officers and deputies and corrections officers, they’re encountering the public or they’re encountering incarcerated population every day, and by the nature of their work, they can’t socially distance all the time,” he said.
Woods retweeted Martin’s tweet, saying the Columbus Division of Police’s positivity rate is 34 percent and echoing the message about police needing the vaccine.
According to Martin, between a fourth and a third of his 230-member team has had COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic.
“We don’t have any desire to cut in line and impact those that are most vulnerable, but having said that, our interactions with the community day in and day out, at times, put both the citizens we respond to at risk and our own deputies and corrections officers,” Martin said.
A statement from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office reads, in part:
“While there is a compelling case for this group and many groups to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, there is not enough vaccine supply right now to vaccinate all groups at this time.”
The statement goes on to say vaccine eligibility to date has reflected the governor’s goals of saving as many lives as possible and getting students back to in-person learning.