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‘It’s been a long time coming’: Ohio police officers included in the next vaccination group

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 1:05 PM EST
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published March 1, 2021 at 10:12 PM EST - Updated March 1 at 11:18 PM on cleveland19.com )

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Great Health Divide) - Police officers are finally eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio. President of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, Gary Wolske, says it has been a long time coming.

“We still have reservations as to why it’s taken so long,” Wolske said.

Wolkse believes police should have been included in the first vaccine group because they are first responders.

“Usually, a lot of times, we’re the first ones there and the last ones to leave,” Wolske explained.

Starting Thursday, Ohio police will be eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. Wolske says COVID has put a huge strain on law enforcement, and he’s hoping this will help relieve some of the pressure.

“It’s been a huge problem as you know budgetary problems in agencies, manpower agencies, Chief Williams was on, within the last month I think he they said that they are usually losing 150-160 officers a week due to COVID,” Wolske said. “I know Columbus was up to about 40% of their folks have been infected with the virus, or they’d been forced to quarantine because of the virus, so those are numbers that are staggering which one would think would’ve gotten us quicker and higher up on the list.”

Wolske says he doesn’t understand why teachers were put ahead of the police.

“Healthcare workers, without a doubt,” he said. “The folks working in hospitals without a doubt, people giving care in nursing homes, the elderly folks in nursing homes, without a doubt.

Teachers don’t have to have hands-on their kids. Law enforcement it’s unfortunately, a necessary evil. You go to a domestic; you go to a robbery scene or something like that or anything active; you’re gonna be touching people. You’re the first person at an accident scene you’re gonna render first aid to victims; it’s unavoidable as law enforcement.”

Wolske says as far as how the rollout will go; that will depend on the department. He says some of the bigger cities like Cleveland and Columbus will probably try to vaccinate their officers at the same time, but for the smaller departments, it will be up to the individual officers to schedule their appointments.

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