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‘Close to 100 per cent’ of Vancouver cops, department staff vaccinated against COVID-19

Vancouver Police Board to hear three complaints Thursday about vaccination policy
VPDvaccinated
Almost all Vancouver police officers and staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Vancouver Police Department says almost all of its 1,300 officers and several hundred staff have had at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, despite an internal policy that allows the unvaccinated to continue working if they are not infected.

The Vancouver Police Board approved the department’s vaccination policy in December, which allowed approximately 1,900 officers and staff the option to report for work after producing a negative COVID-19 test — at their own expense — for the coronavirus.

The policy had little effect on the decision of most employees, who have chosen instead to get vaccinated, with Sgt. Steve Addison saying Tuesday (Jan. 18) the vaccination percentage rate was is “in the high 90s.”

“I don't have specific numbers on the number of members who are vaccinated,” said Addison, a VPD media relations officer. “As you can appreciate, it's changing regularly as the few holdouts that we have are deciding more and more to get vaccinated. But I can safely say that we're close to 100 per cent.”

Addison wouldn’t disclose how many officers and staff are off sick with COVID-19, which can also occur to people who have been vaccinated, as daily data reports from the Ministry of Health continue to show.

However, the number of unvaccinated people in hospital in B.C. with COVID-19 between Dec. 31 and Jan. 13 was much greater than those who were fully vaccinated — 57.3 per 100,000 population compared to 11.5 fully vaccinated, according to the ministry.

Addison said the department has contingency plans in place to ensure public safety is not compromised in case of a staff shortage, a common occurrence in recent weeks for many workplaces.

“We obviously have members who have been affected by [COVID-19], and we've had people take sick time, but it hasn't affected our ability to provide service, or our ability to deploy officers into the field,” he said.

“We're doing OK, we're managing it. And one of the reasons why we're able to manage it, I think is because we are highly vaccinated — and because we're taking every precaution to make sure that we don't spread it.”

At the same time, Addison said, the department respects the fact there will continue to be employees who choose not to get vaccinated, whether for personal, political or other reasons. The vaccination policy, he added, “is a way to ensure that they can come to work and still be fit for duty.”

The department’s vaccination policy is on the police board’s Thursday meeting agenda, with the board having to decide how it wants to respond to three complaints regarding the policy, including from a person described as a family member of a VPD officer.

The person’s name was not disclosed in the complaint.

“I’d like to register my disappointment with the decision to not require vaccination for VPD officers,” the complainant wrote. “This decision further reduces public trust in the VPD at a time when trust is in short supply. I’m sure you’ve seen the news headlines about it, and I hope you change your policies soon.”

Another complainant, whose name was also not disclosed, criticized the board in what the person described as showing a lack of responsibility for citizens’ safety.

“Much like police officers, healthcare workers are integral to the functionality of our community — less healthcare workers equals less support for those who are in need of care,” the complainant said. “It is unfair that healthcare workers have to lose their job whereas the police doesn't.”

The police board, which meets at 1 p.m. Thursday, has five options on how it can respond to the complainants, including requesting Police Chief Adam Palmer to investigate and report on the complaint.

Other options are to initiate a study concerning the complaint, initiate an investigation into the complaint, dismiss the complaint with reasons or take any other action the board considers necessary to respond adequately to the complaint.

The meeting will be livestreamed and can be viewed on the board’s website.

mhowell@glaciermedia.ca

@Howellings