Front-line Sask. police officers need priority COVID vaccine, police organizations says

·3 min read
The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police says police need to be a priority for vaccination so they don't run into a staffing shortage.
The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police says police need to be a priority for vaccination so they don't run into a staffing shortage.

(Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan's front-line police officers need priority COVID-19 vaccinations during Phase 2 of the rollout to prevent multiple individual quarantines and staffing shortages, according to organizations representing police officers.

The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police recently sent a letter to Premier Scott Moe asking that 2,176 vaccines be reserved for those front-line police officers most at risk of both a COVID-19 infection and multiple quarantines. The SACP also requested a meeting with Moe and other government officials in charge of vaccination planning.

"Front-line police officers are typically our youngest employees; under the province's proposed Phase 2 vaccination plan, police officers who shoulder the majority of the risk will be among the last to be vaccinated," the letter stated.

Those same officers are being forced to quarantine as many as four times thanks to exposure during "dynamic" situations such as stabbings or enforcement of COVID regulations when officers are unable to properly protect themselves from exposure, according to the letter.

Casey Ward, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers — which represents more than 1,000 officers in Saskatchewan — said front-line officers are often quarantining away from their families for multiple 14-day periods.

Casey Ward, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers, says front-line police officers need priority on the vaccination list.
Casey Ward, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers, says front-line police officers need priority on the vaccination list.

"We had one where the member's wife was just about to be delivering a baby, her own baby, and didn't know if they'd leave the quarantine in time," Ward said.

Saskatchewan's current Phase 1 vaccine rollout plan is focused on priority groups, including health-care workers and the elderly.

Phase 2 of the plan will dole out vaccines based on age from oldest to youngest, as well as to people considered clinically vulnerable.

Ward said people may not realize the daily danger front-line police officers are exposed to related to COVID-19. He noted that enforcing the government's COVID regulations often entails arresting or transporting people who have tested positive for the virus and who are not complying with public health measures.

"We're not asking for every one of our members to get the vaccination. Just our members that are out there continually dealing with the public, that are going to be affected with the new job that they're doing with these apprehension orders," Ward said.

In the letter to Saskatchewan's government, the SACP cites the National Advisory Committee on Immunization as recommending vaccinating police officers during phase two.

The NACI website lists police officers as a key priority group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

In an emailed statement from Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health, a spokesperson stated the government will continue to deliver the vaccine based on age during Phase 2 of the rollout.

"Phase 2 of Saskatchewan's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan is built on the foundation of age as the main risk factor, and will include targeted vaccinations for adults and staff in group homes for persons with intellectual disabilities and shelters, as well as clinically extremely vulnerable adults," the email stated.