NewsPolk County


Low vaccination among first responders as departments hold off on mandates

Posted at 6:01 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 18:09:39-04

Though first responders were among the first to gain access to COVID-19 vaccines, they still lag in vaccination rates.

At the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office, a voluntary survey given to employees back in May shows that 48% of people are vaccinated. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said a new survey is currently underway.

At the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, a mere 27% of employees have gotten the shot and about 30% are vaccinated over at St. Petersburg Fire Rescue.

In Polk County, Fire Rescue Chief Robert Weech said he’s concerned that only 37% of his employees are vaccinated.

“We have a responsibility to be as healthy as we can when we’re out there protecting the public,” said Weech.

The Chief said the department currently has 19 employees with COVID-19 but he said he won’t mandate the vaccine.

“Polk County Fire Rescue and myself thinks that’s a personal decision and we urge, strongly recommend, we provide it several times, but I feel strongly we should stop short of forcing people,” Weech said.

Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd is urging his employees to get vaccinated, after a deputy died from COVID-19 earlier this week.

With the FDA’s full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, Weech is hopeful more first responders will get the shot.

“Hopefully the tide will start to turn, and we’ll be more accepting of getting the vaccine and it will be more prevalent not only the workforce but throughout the mainstream in the county,” Weech said.