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Surveys find many Tampa Bay first responders will not get the coronavirus vaccine

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Posted at 4:07 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 17:48:50-05

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Many first responders in the Tampa Bay area say they won’t take the coronavirus vaccine.

Local fire and police departments conducted surveys about the coronavirus vaccine, and a significant number of first responders say they are not taking it or are undecided.

“It’s just so new and it’s been so highly publicized and so highly politicized, I think for a lot of our members,” said John Klinefelter, Clearwater Fire & Rescue Division Chief of Health and Safety.

About 60% of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office employees who took the survey said they don’t want to get the vaccine.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue had 56% respond "no” and a quarter were undecided.

The Clearwater police survey showed 39% said no, 28% were undecided, and 32% said they would take the vaccine. Only 30 percent said yes at Clearwater Fire & Rescue.

ABC Action News asked first responders if so many decline to take the shot, could this put themselves and the public at risk?

“We have not had, that we know of through contact tracing, we have not had any job acquired COVID cases through any 911 calls. So, our members when they’re running these calls they’re in full PPE,” said Klinefelter.

Agency leaders say these surveys were taken weeks before the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use. They believe first responders will come around as the number of people vaccinated grows.

“As it continues to roll out across the community, the first couple waves. I think, not just our firefighters, we’re just kind of that microcosm of society. I think just like everybody, their minds will be at ease and they’ll be more willing to take the vaccination,” Klinefelter added.

Tampa police and fire are still in the process of surveying its employees. The chiefs of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater police departments all said they will get the vaccine when it’s available to them.