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Law enforcement not among first responders offered vaccine in Ohio

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 19:26:19-05

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio — First responders have been receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for weeks, but in Ohio there has been one exception: Law enforcement.

Deputies at the Butler County Sheriff's Office are not allowed to get vaccines right now, something Sheriff Richard Jones is not happy about.

"They're first responders when they need you to go to the governor's house, to the statehouse, police protection, when they're shooting at people, that's when we're first responders," said Jones.

In both Kentucky and Indiana, law enforcement officials are listed as able to get vaccinated, but in Ohio the first responder tier only covers EMS responders and health care workers.

"Most cops that have died, have died from COVID in the United States," said Jones. "We still have to arrest people that have COVID. But evidently I believe someone's making this decision that doesn't really care a lot for cops maybe, or doesn't think they need to be on this list."

He's pointed to what he called an unorganized roll out from the state and the Butler County Health Department as part of the problem.

"We understand the Sheriff's frustration related to the low supply and availability of the vaccine," reads a statement from Jenny Bailer, Butler County health commissioner. "The decision on who will receive the vaccine and when individuals are eligible are the governor's decision, not local health departments."

The Ohio Department of Health also responded with a statement.

"There are many 'worthy' groups and many high priority groups," it reads. "But the governor has made clear that his goal is to save as many lives as possible and get children back in the classroom."

ODH said the current categorization system doesn't mean law enforcement won't be prioritized in future groups.