Police officers are getting vaccinated at lower rates than the general population, despite being one of the first groups to be eligible for the vaccine.
Citing data from law enforcement agencies in major cities, the Washington Post reports that vaccine hesitancy appears to be a common theme, and in some cases union leaders and other officials are loath to do anything about it.
“I hate to sound like I don’t care, but I really don’t,” Vince Champion, the Southeast regional director of the International Brotherhood Of Police Officers, a police union, told the Post. “It’s a personal decision. We fight [the virus] every day. We’re out among every disease in the world.”
In roughly half of the departments contacted by the paper—more than 40—department leadership was not even keeping track of whether officers had been vaccinated. Those that did shared data revealing concerning disparities: Just 28 percent of employees working for the Columbus Division of Police said they’d received at least one shot of the covid vaccine, according to the Post, as compared to 50 percent of the eligible population. (55 percent, as of this writing.)
Police departments and individual officers seemed to take a similar attitude toward the idea of wearing masks while on the job: Departments across the country lacked consistent rules about masks, and officers were often spotted without them (sometimes by Bella Hadid), even as they were empowered to fine civilians for not wearing their own.
Far from “fighting the virus every day,” as Champion told the Post, police officers have put more people in danger of contracting the virus by refusing to abide by public health guidances, particularly since police come into such close (undue) contact with people every day—which of course is in itself a danger, whether there’s a pandemic or not. Really, it’s the whole problem.