New York Daily News
Worth a shot
Police all across New York have been eligible for COVID vaccinations for nearly four months. It was Jan. 11 when Gov. Cuomo opened eligibility to people age 75 and older and frontline professionals, including cops. Officers’ inclusion in the lucky group was a result of pleading from electeds who correctly insisted they needed shots sooner because of the essential, necessarily face-to-face nature of their work.
Yet extraordinarily few NYPD officers have taken advantage of the opportunity. Among roughly 53,000 folks in the NYPD, just 35% have been vaccinated, per the department, despite the department’s incentive of three hours extra comp time to officers who get injected.
Apparently, some officers who got COVID falsely think they’ve got immunity forever. Others are just fearful. Whatever the explanation, the low rate is unacceptable. Police can’t do most of their work remotely, and they often interact physically with the public. If they don’t get vaccinated, they’re putting themselves and those they’re supposed to protect at risk. Commissioner Dermot Shea should get behind the bully pulpit, and the Police Benevolent Association’s Patrick Lynch should join him there.
The surprisingly low NYPD vaccination numbers are ironic after months of Cuomo and others wringing hands about vaccine hesitancy among a different group of employees — health-care workers, particularly those working at nursing homes. Both those groups much higher vaccination rates than the NYPD, with 56% of nursing home staff and 66% of health care staff vaccinated citywide.
Forcing people to get the shots is legally tricky, since they’re not yet fully FDA-approved. But officials can and should do more to incentivize people to get them. Cuomo’s promise Wednesday to give free Yankees and Mets tickets to future vaccine-getters, following West Virginia’s offer of $100 or New Jersey’s promise of a free beer for every shot, is clever.
Meanwhile, polling shows vaccine-hesitant people might be more willing to get jabbed if vaccination yielded rewards in the form of fewer mask rules and onerous restrictions. Dangle more carrots, then reach for the stick.