Vaccine rate for area’s first responders about same as general public’s

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The number of local police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel who have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus appears to be similar to the numbers for the general public.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 54% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, as of Thursday. Roughly 61.1% of people in New York State have been fully vaccinated.

These numbers match local first-responder agencies, where some members are vaccinated and some are not.

“We have several firefighters that have gotten the vaccine. More than half of us,” said Rome Fire Chief Thomas Iacovissi.

“It’s probably the same as in the general community. Some people feel that they’re younger and they’re not as concerned about it.”

There is no mandate in the City of Rome for public workers to be vaccinated. Iacovissi said there is no mandate within the department either. He said the decision not to get vaccinated is up to the individuals, and members of all ages have both gotten and not gotten the shot.

With the recent resurgence due to the Delta Variant, Iacovissi said he re-instituted the order to wear protective masks on all medical calls. He said the department has been following all required
precautions since the start of the pandemic.

“We follow all the guidelines and the precautions, so we’re confident we’re not going to pass it along to the public,” Iacovissi stated.

At AmCare Ambulance, over 75% of its members are fully vaccinated, said President Paul Taylor.

“The majority of our people are vaccinated,” Taylor said. “There are people that would prefer not to, and we are waiting to see if there is a mandate from the state Department of Health. We’ll do whatever we’ve got to do” should a mandate be issued.

Taylor said there is no mandate within the agency, many of whose members received the vaccine as early as January because they are first-responders. Anyone at AmCare who does not have the vaccine must wear a mask, he stated. And all members are fully masked and protected on emergency calls.

“Every patient that we treat, we are using respiratory equipment and masks on,” Taylor stated. “AmCare wears masks on every single patient.”

The Rome Police Department declined to release their COVID-19 vaccine numbers.

“It is not mandated in the department,” said spokesperson Lt. Sharon Rood.

At the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, about 60% of all employees are fully vaccinated, including law enforcement and civilian staff.

“We don’t mandate the vaccine,” said Chief Deputy Jonathan Owens.

Anyone who is not vaccinated is tested on a weekly basis for the virus, and must show proof of the test, Owens said. He added that 100% of unvaccinated employees are complying with the weekly test requirement.

At the Utica Police Department, 72% of officers are vaccinated, according to Police Chief Mark Williams. He noted that they are not legally allowed to ask why an employee refused to get the vaccine. Williams said there is no vaccine mandate in the department or the City of Utica.

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