TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — While some people are eager to get the COVID vaccines others want no part of it. Some of those vaccine skeptics are in law enforcement.
Health officials say it’s a challenge to get enough vaccine for the people who want it. Another issue in the fight to knock out the virus is the people who don’t want the vaccine----some of them in groups given priority for the shots because they’re in public service and at higher risk--- like law enforcement.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels says in his department about sixty percent of his 240 employees did not get vaccinated.
“Some of it is personal choice, just based on they don't do vaccines or they talk to their families they choose not to . Some don't have trust in the vaccine. I've had a lot of that where they thought it was rushed, so as a result of that they feel the vaccine is something they want to wait on, and maybe take at a later date.”
After a Sierra Vista newspaper reported the vaccination rate for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies, Sheriff Dannels posted a response on the department’s Facebook page.
Sheriff Dannels says he’s taken both shots of the vaccine, and he worries a major outbreak could knock a lot of his staff out of action but he says following strict precautions has limited infections.
The Sheriff says he’s shared expert medical information about the virus and the vaccines but he does not feel he should order anyone to take the shot.
“My thought as a sheriff, is to provide them the information to make the best decisions, but to mandate that I don't know a number one I don't think I have a legal authority but number two is that is a personal choice that I leave with my employees.”
Sheriff Dannels says tight supplies, and time in long lines may make it hard for staff who want vaccinations to get them even if they are in a priority group. As for those who want to skip the shots he thinks some may change their minds as more of their co-workers have vaccinations without serious trouble afterwards.
“So they want to see where this takes in the future if there's any side effects and that goes back to trust too. And again, based on their personal beliefs and values where do they want to be shot in the future. It’s totally up to them.”
KGUN9 checked with the Pima County Sheriff's Department. A spokesman there says they can't share specific numbers on staff vaccinations but they believe most of the staff is getting immunized. The Tucson Police Department has made vaccinations available to its officers but cited medical privacy law in not disclosing the number of officers vaccinated.