Law enforcement now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, agencies taking different approaches

First responders are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in Indiana. Local law enforcement agencies are approaching the process of enforcing the vaccine on officers differently.

Posted: Jan 6, 2021 6:50 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) -- First responders are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in Indiana. Here locally, several law enforcement officers have taken their first dose.

West Lafayette Police Chief Troy Harris, Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly, and Tippecanoe County Sheriff Bob Goldsmith are among those now vaccinated against the virus. These leaders are each approaching the process differently when it comes to enforcing their staff and officers get the shot. Some are making it a priority to be taken while others say it's a choice.

"This is the first step to a new normal," said Harris.

As the battle against coronavirus continues globally, he believes this vaccine is a strong way to win the fight.

"I've encouraged all of our staff, all our officers to get it and I thought it was important that I go first to show how important I thought it was," said Harris.

Sheriff Goldsmith joins Harris in getting his first dose of the vaccine this week. He also agrees getting the vaccine should be a personal choice for officers.

"At first I was on the fence, and then I was like absolutely not and then I thought about it more, and if there's anything I can do to protect myself and my family that's what I want to do," said Goldsmith.

Chief Harris said it's ultimately their choice, but he is encouraging his officers to take this opportunity to get vaccinated. Sheriff Goldsmith is taking a different approach with not wanting to persuade his deputies one way or the other.

"It's a choice, that they need to make on their own and I'm not going to do anything to persuade them and either way, it's a decision they need to make," said Goldsmith.

Chief Flannelly is taking the opposite approach from Goldsmith. Although none of these agencies can legally force their officers to take the vaccine, Flannelly said he's expecting his officers to take it and those with underlying health issues or religious restrictions are the only exception.

"They're running from call to call every day they're going from one home to another," said Flannelly. "For them, there's no way to avoid this. There's no working from home, there's no way to isolate yourself."

He said they're required to get their shots against hepatitis and other viral infections they could come in contact with on the job and the Covid-19 vaccine shouldn't be seen any differently.

"The FDA has approved these vaccines," said Flannelly. "There's been no information or no evidence to suggest that there's any more danger from these vaccines than any other vaccine and the expectation is our personnel would have to take those other vaccines as well so this really is no different."

For officers getting vaccinated this week, second doses will be administered in four to six weeks. First responders are among the Phase One group of eligible people to be vaccinated. There are a total of three phases according to the CDC.

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Data is updated nightly.

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