COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Starting Thursday, a lot more Ohioans will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including law enforcement.
Some central Ohio law enforcement leaders have been pushing for months to get their departments eligible for the vaccine.
The positivity rate for the virus among the Columbus Division of Police has been as high as 34%.
Columbus Division of Police Sgt. James Fuqua said when the department found out its officers are being included in the next round of vaccines, there was a big sense of relief.
The department has nearly 2,000 sworn officers.
“We felt it was time to expand the group that is eligible,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday, announcing that corrections officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, and police officer will be eligible for the vaccine.
“We’ve wanted it since the beginning of the approval of the vaccine,” Fuqua said.
Fuqua said the majority of the officers he’s spoken with plan on getting the vaccine as soon as possible.
“This is one of those jobs where we don’t have the luxury of isolating ourselves and socially distancing ourselves not only from the public but the people we work with,” he said.
Three weeks ago, interim Columbus Chief of Police Michael Woods tweeted the division’s positivity rate was 34% and said law enforcement needs the vaccine to help protect the communities officers interact with on a daily basis.
“Every unit in this department has been severely affected by COVID,” Fuqua said.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost posted on Twitter Monday, saying, “I’ve been making the case for months law enforcement officers deserve vaccinations…Very happy to see the announcement Governor DeWine thinks so too.”
Fuqua said it’s not just about protecting themselves, but more so others, not wanting to unknowingly give COVID-19 to a community member or bring it home to their own families.
“The psychological stress of this job is already hard enough as it is, so the fact that we now can be provided the opportunity to get this vaccine is just another added layer of protection, psychologically and physically,” he said.
As for all the new groups announced today, including law enforcement, a spokesperson for Columbus Public Health said it will continue vaccinating these new groups at the clinic at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.
In addition to law enforcement, Thursday marks the start of Phase 1-C and Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine rollout. This includes anyone 60-years-old and older, residents with certain medical conditions including type 1 Diabetes and bone marrow transplant recipients, and residents working in child care and the funeral industry. All told, approximately 941,000 additional Ohioans will become eligible for the vaccine.