Police, firefighters and EMTs were some of the first Arizonans who were prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But how many got the shot?
Well, that answer is more complicated than one would think.
That's because of the more than 30 fire and police departments we reached out to, none are requiring or tracking how many of their employees are getting vaccinated.
“None of the vaccines have been approved by the FDA, they’ve been authorized but not approved so that makes a big difference if you’re an employer,” said Former State Health Director Will Humble.
Of the dozens of emails sent to agencies across the Valley and state asking how many or what percentage of their teams have gotten the shot, this was the general response:
“To be vaccinated is a personal choice for our staff and we do not track this information.”
“If you compel people to get vaccinated, are you going to lose talented staff that rely on critical functions? It’s possible,” said Humble.
Cities like Phoenix are taking a different approach by offering employees a $75 bonus for receiving the vaccine.
Of the 3,982 officers in the city, only 1,051 have applied for the bonus. Of the 2,044 Phoenix firefighters, just 503 also applied for the bonus.
How many got the shot but never requested the bonus remains a mystery.
“When you call 911, you’re asking firefighters and paramedics to come in and have pretty intimate contact with you,” said Humble.
While their work with vulnerable populations is a serious reason to encourage their vaccination, police officers have another.
Last year they were more likely to die of COVID-19 than of all other causes combined, according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The question is, can these agencies do anything about it?
“What gets measured, gets done, it’s true. If you start measuring something, then you have the ability to influence the outcome of it,” said Humble.
Privacy surrounding medical information again complicates the matter.
But without knowing who is protected, stopping potential spread gets even more difficult.