Toronto police say just over 2,000 of its frontline members are eligible to be vaccinated as of March 1 – the same day parts of the province began vaccinating several of its residents aged 80-and-over.
The constables and sergeants were recently moved into the current phase of the province’s roll-out plan, along with other medical first responders.
In a statement, Toronto police say the 2,250 officers qualified for their first dose respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required. Just over 1,000 Toronto paramedics were vaccinated across the city starting on Jan. 7th
There are about 5,000 police officers in Toronto. Almost half are now eligible to receive the vaccine as of today. And this was not previously announced. What other essential workers are getting the vaccine? The Ontario government has not said. https://t.co/pgJInXnCVB
— Rob Gillies (@rgilliescanada) March 1, 2021
“These officers work mainly in Priority Response (PRU), Mobile Crisis Intervention (MCIT), and Neighbourhood Community Officers (NCO),” spokesperson Connie Osborne said in an email.
“It is approximately 2,250 frontline members who were moved into the current phase by the Province.”
The Toronto Police Association announced on Twitter that members of the force were, in fact, getting treated.
“Our members risk daily exposure to COVID during daily public interactions. The vaccine mitigates this risk as they continue to provide core policing responsibilities & pandemic duties & will reduce the strain on police resources when officers are quarantined.”
Brian Callanan, vice-president of the Toronto Police Association, said the vaccine rollout began at Michael Garron Hospital.
“Your TPA Board will continue to advocate for you until every member has the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Callanan tweeted Monday.
When asked why members of the force are getting vaccinated ahead of Phase 2 of the province’s rollout, Mayor John Tory simply pointed to the fact that officers are frontline workers.
“If you look at the provincial document, it talks about medical first responders which include people that go on medically-related calls,” said Tory. “If you look at police officers performing CPR, officers administering naloxone, you have not all police officers but a certain number of them involved in that type of a call.”
“Similar to the way firefighters are, similar to paramedics.”
Ahead of the new year, paramedics began voicing frustration over a lack of clarity with regards to the vaccine process.
Just over 1,000 Toronto paramedics were vaccinated across the city starting on Jan. 7th.
In early February, the Ontario Professional Firefighters Association (OPFFA) denied speculation that several firefighters jumped the queue for COVID-19 vaccines.
At the time, OPFFA president Carmen Santoro said the province’s firefighters were “waiting patiently for their COVID-19 vaccinations,“ clearing the air over a misunderstanding with regards to Ontario’s Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout.
In mid-January, the province said it was focusing on vaccinating health-care workers and those in long-term care facilities, adding that people over the age of 80 will be the first priority group to receive the shot when Ontario enters the second phase of its vaccine rollout in April.
The province said Ontario’s Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout includes frontline personnel who provide direct health care services, such as responding to triaged medical emergency calls where there is an increased risk of exposure to the virus.
Front-line police officers, paramedics, and firefighters who respond to medical calls and provide emergency assistance, such as administering Naloxone and CPR, are under the Phase 1 category.
“Only active duty front-line police officers who, as part of their duties, regularly provide emergency medical care are included in Phase 1. Police services personnel who do not respond to medical calls for service as part of their routine duties do not qualify under Phase 1,” the province says.
Examples of staff who do not qualify, are those who work with investigative units and are back-office staff.
In the GTA, Peel Region has begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to adults 80 and over, as other regions prepare to allow the same age group to begin pre-registering for their vaccination appointments.
Starting Monday, residents aged 80 and older in York Region are also eligible to book an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine.