Law Enforcement Left Out of Vaccinations

by Katie Jeffries on November 12, 2009 at 10:46 am

After the death of a Captain in the Preble County Sheriff’s Office from complications from H1N1, law enforcement officials are saying they should be part of the Tier One priority group.

In Muskingum County only first responders received the H1N1 vaccinations. First responders being EMTs and firefighters, leaving out everyone in law enforcement.

"It is a concerning thing for us because as many people as we deal with on a daily basis, we really feel it is probably more important for us to be there on that Tier One because if our officer handles a call at 3:30 in the afternoon and picks something up and talks to 25 other people the rest of the night, then we are probably going to be carrying it and spreading more than anybody," says Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t planning on changing it’s Tier One recommendations. But counties, such as Pickaway County, decided to vaccinate their officers in addition to the Tier One group. Sheriff Lutz says two of his officers became very ill with flu like symptoms.

"Well we have had a couple that have gotten very sick.  We had one officer that actually was transported to the hospital before they found out that’s probably what it was.  He had some respiratory problems, both officers probably took a week to get them back on their feet," tells Sheriff Lutz.

Law enforcement is taking extra precautions by using Clorox wipes and hand sanitizers and even taking precautionary steps in the jail to keep H1N1 out. But Sheriff Lutz says if a large amount of officers become sick, they will have a serious problem with man power.  For now, he is just waiting to receive a notice of when law enforcement will be vaccinated.

"I think when the Tiers came out and they did the fire and EMS, I don’t know if police were just overlooked or if they didn’t feel we would have that close a contact with people or what.  I think it was definitely an oversight and I think it is very important because again we are in that realm of first responding all the time," says Sheriff Lutz.

Sheriff Lutz says he believes the health department is doing a great job getting people vaccinated quickly. But in the future he says he hopes law enforcement is included as first responders.



Katie Jeffries