Story at a glance:
- Vaccination rates among police officers are lower than those of the general public.
- Despite having access to vaccines, police officers are choosing to opt out.
- The low rates of vaccination poses a risk to the officers themselves and the public, experts say.
Despite working on the front lines, many police officers are still reluctant to receive the coronavirus vaccine — posing a health risk not only for themselves but the public they interact with.
The Washington Post reports that the number of police officers getting vaccinated is lower than or about the same as for those in the general public.
In Las Vegas, 39 percent of employed officers in the Metropolitan Police Department have received at least one dose, officials said. Across the country, however, more than 50 percent of eligible adults have received at least one dose, The Washington Post reports.
The Post also reports that 36 percent of officers in Atlanta are vaccinated, and 28 percent of officers in Ohio’s largest police department have received at least one shot.
For officers themselves, many have preexisting conditions — like diabetes, heart disease and weight-related health issues — that put them at greater risk of a more severe coronavirus infection. For the public, interacting with an officer who is not vaccinated could be a threat to their own health.
“Police touch people,” Sharona Hoffman, a professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, said. “Imagine having a child in the car who’s not vaccinated. People would want to know if a police officer coming to their window is protected.”
The Post also found that many police departments across the country are not even tracking how many officers got the vaccine. The report comes amid concerns that the country’s chances of reaching herd immunity are slipping as variants circulate and vaccine hesitancy continues.
Vince Champion, the southeast regional director of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told The Post that he sees the vaccine a personal matter.
“I hate to sound like I don’t care, but I really don’t,” Champion said. “It’s a personal decision. We fight [the virus] every day. We’re out among every disease in the world.”
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA