Local police, fire departments say they’re left in the dark when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine

Local police, fire departments say they’re left in the dark when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine

PITTSBURGH — Many area police and fire departments say they’re left in the dark, still waiting to hear when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available for them.

“We’ve had a number of officers with COVID-19 and a number of officers who have had to be quarantined due to exposure. I’ve been quarantined twice myself,” said Brian Kohlhepp with Ross Township Police.

Kohlhepp said the department is anxiously waiting for word that it’s their turn to get the shot. The problem is that it’s a guessing game.

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“I’ve heard the end of Jan. as well as a rumor but at this point, we have nothing official, soft or hard as to when we will have vaccines in hand,” he said.

Demand is sky-high, but supply is limited. Infectious disease doctor Dr. Amesh Adalja said the high demand coupled with logistics resulted in a slow rollout.

“You have to fill out paperwork, a consent form. You have to fill out a vaccine card. You get the vaccine. These vaccines are given based on appointments, certain slots for certain time periods,” he said.

Another wrinkle that is complicating things is prioritization. The goal is to ensure those working directly with COVID-19 patients are protected first, leaving first responders guessing.

“We need more vaccine to our area to be able to meet the needs of not only firefighters, but our law enforcement and essential workers,” Ralph Sicuro with the Pittsburgh Firefighter’s Union said.

The Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said some of their officers have started to get the vaccine. The hope is to have all first responders access to it by the end of the month.

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