Saskatoon police chief says he won't accept COVID-19 vaccine based on age while frontline officers still 'at risk'
Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper speaks to media July 22, 2019. (File photo)
SASKATOON -- Saskatoon's police chief is speaking out after the province announced that COVID-19 vaccine distribution would largely be based on age.
"It's the job of police officers to help people," Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) Chief Troy Cooper said in a tweet sent Wednesday.
"As police leaders, it's our job to make it safe for them; the vaccine is part of that," Cooper said.
On Tuesday the Government of Saskatchewan outlined its plan for "Phase 2" of its vaccine distribution program, which will focus on the general population in 10-year increments, starting with people in their 60s and working down.
Many of those in essential professions, including police, have been lobbying the government to be given priority in the vaccine rollout.
"I've heard from all groups they're lobbying to be prioritized within the sequence and they're all valid points, and I want to emphasize that. In saying that, what we're looking at right now is getting a large quantity of vaccines (delivered) in a short amount of time," Health Minister Paul Merriman said during a news conference in Regina on Tuesday.
"It's the people that are over 60 that are unfortunately or have the most impact from COVID and the most fatalities that we've seen in Saskatchewan and across the country and around the world. That's where we need to focus," Merriman said.
Cooper, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, said he doesn't agree with the province's approach.
"I cannot accept an opportunity to be vaccinated based on my age, while our frontline members put themselves at risk and suffer from stress that goes along with that."
Cooper also shared an image with his tweet, bearing an SPS logo, that said: "We never wanted to be first, but we do need to be a priority."
During Tuesday's news conference, Merriman discouraged anyone from postponing their vaccination once they are eligible.
"I'd like to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, when it's your turn. That's how we will protect ourselves, and those around us," Merriman said.