Front-line police officers moved up a level for COVID-19 vaccination

·2 min read
Front-line police officers are now grouped in Phase 2 of the province's vaccination rollout strategy.  (David Laughlin/CBC - image credit)
Front-line police officers are now grouped in Phase 2 of the province's vaccination rollout strategy. (David Laughlin/CBC - image credit)

The province has reversed a decision on COVID-19 vaccinations for front-line police officers.

Public Health is moving the officers ahead in the vaccination schedule.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, has previously said there isn't a great risk that they'll contract COVID-19, but the province's health minister said Thursday police made a "compelling" case for quicker vaccine doses.

Earlier in March, Halifax Regional Police confirmed four officers had tested positive for the virus, and some other officers had to quarantine as a result of contact with them.

Strang called it "unfortunate" that people assumed the cases were the result of front-line work, adding most of the cases within Halifax police were actually the result of office protocols which had allowed a single case to spread to co-workers.

"If you look across the country we are not seeing front line police officers being a group that jumps out as having excessive amounts of COVID cases," Strang said in a COVID-19 briefing on March 9.

At the time of that briefing police officers were not specified as a group in the rollout of Nova Scotia's vaccine strategy, although the Halifax union had been pushing to move them into the second phase. Strang said Public Health planned to meet with police that day to discuss.

Since March 9, front-line police officers have been added to the second phase.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, answers questions during a briefing on March 9, 2021.
Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, answers questions during a briefing on March 9, 2021.(CBC)

Health Minister Zach Churchill told reporters following a cabinet meeting on Thursday he was not in the meetings between Public Health and the police, but his understanding was the issue was around the "points of contact" police officers have.

"There's no control over social distancing with members of the public. There's volatility in terms of who they're interacting with," he said.

"They made a case for front-line police officers who are working on the streets and interacting with the public. And that case was compelling for Public Health."

The province faced some political pressure to make the change, as the Progressive Conservative party had been pushing for the move.

Tory Rushton, the PC critic for Lands and Forestry, called it "welcome news."

"It's disappointing it's taken this long and this much advocacy to get there but we're very pleased with this news," Rushton said Thursday.

The change places police officers in a similar group to doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, long-haul truck drivers, and people who work in large food processing plants.

MORE TOP STORIES