Manitoba's police chiefs say officers need to be vaccinated due to work their circumstances, including the example of officers giving CPR to COVID-19 positive people.
The Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) say police officers need to be immediately prioritized under the provincial COVID-19 immunization plan.
"The fear of contracting COVID-19 is real for police officers as their work regularly brings them into confined spaces and close contact with a number of people," Marc Robichaud, MACP President and Executive of the Board says in a statement. "They do not have the opportunity to socially distance during these interactions. On every shift, our frontline officers face significant risk of exposure to COVID-19."
They say like other front-lone workers, police cannot do their jobs virtually. MACP say that their workers have been dedicated to their communities and need the vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus.
"In the early days of the pandemic, when little was known about the virus and personal protective equipment was in short supply, these officers continued to carry-out their critical duties. They did so, not only because of their sworn duty to protect but also because they care deeply about the communities they serve and the wellbeing of the people of Manitoba."
Robichaud is concerned that with the new variants of concern there could be more spread of the virus during police work. He says there were many instances where officers were giving CPS to people who were later identified as being COVID-19 positive.
"Our concern is not solely about our officers contracting the virus, but also unknowingly becoming carriers, and potentially spreading it to the most vulnerable segments of our society. On a daily basis, officers work closely with the elderly, people experiencing homelessness and those suffering from drug or alcohol dependencies."
He says officers cannot practice social distancing in their work.