FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Hundreds of personnel with law enforcement agencies in Fresno County have gotten at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said there are around 4,000 people involved with law enforcement agencies in the county – and a little more than half have decided to get the vaccine so far.
“As first responders, for our deputies and for our correctional officers who actually work in the jail, it was very important for us to get vaccinated, not only for our own safety, but for the people we work with, and our families, for anybody out there in the public,” Mims said.
The Fresno County Jail has been hit hard by COVID-19 outbreaks. Some correctional officers were among the first to get the vaccine in Fresno County.
“We only have 51 single cells of the 3,000 beds we have so you can’t socially distance,” Mims said. “They actually got the vaccines at the same time as our medical providers did, so they were the very first ones because they were actively working on the floor where there were COVID positive inmates.”
Mims received the first dose of the vaccine earlier this month and is expecting to get her second one in March.
“I made it very public when I got my vaccine so the word was that if I can do this, so can you,” she said.
Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama has received both doses of the vaccine, the department confirmed, inspiring other officers to do the same.
“He really felt like it was the best thing for our officers, for their families. After talking to him, I felt really comfortable with it and I agreed and that’s why I decided to get the vaccine,” said Fresno Police Lt. Rob Beckwith said.
Although it’s not clear how many officers with Fresno Police have gotten the vaccine, Lt. Beckwith said when they conducted an earlier survey, 60% of officers said they would receive the vaccine while 40% said they wouldn’t.
Joe Prado with the Fresno County Department of Public Health acknowledged Friday that there was potential vaccine hesitancy among first responders and that they would receive feedback from American Ambulance, who administered the doses for first responders.
Agencies in Fresno County have lost some of their own to the virus.
“Our officers are at risk of being exposed every day. They’re out in the field. They’re on the front lines. Their risk for exposure is great,” Beckwith said.
Sheriff Mims said there was a two-week window for personnel with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office to get the vaccine, but added if there are people who are now interested and did not take advantage of the opportunity then she would communicate that to the Fresno County Department of Public Health.
“If you’re not the one you’re worried about, think about the people that you’re living with and the people that you love. That you won’t be spreading this disease too,” Sheriff Mims said.