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.

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