States with large number of unvaccinated first responders could face ‘major workforce disruptions,’ study says

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(NEW YORK) — States with a large number of unvaccinated first responders “may face major workforce disruptions due to COVID-19 illness,” according to a study released Tuesday by researchers at the University of Miami.

First responders are more likely to contract COVID-19 than another population of individuals, but less likely to trust vaccines, the study says.

Last year, the leading cause of line of duty deaths amongst law enforcement was COVID-19, with 301 COVID deaths in 2021, according to the Office Down Memorial Page end of year report. This year is no different. The mid-year report from the group found over 95 COVID deaths in 2022. In fact, the group concluded the large increase in law enforcement deaths was entirely due to COVID-19 year over year.

The study looked at firefighters and police officers primarily in Arizona and Florida and found that out of the 1415 participants, 829 were fully vaccinated and 586 were not. The majority of the participants who took the survey were white men.

First responders in Florida who participated in the survey were likely to not be vaccinated than vaccinated as 291 were unvaccinated and 228 were fully vaccinated. The survey also found that 545 firefighters who participated in the survey were vaccinated but 419 were not. The numbers of fully vaccinated law enforcement officers offer a better picture with 157 law enforcement officers were vaccinated and 81 were unvaccinated.

“Given the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines during the public health emergency, governments should consider vaccine mandates with regular testing and alternative work assignments for unvaccinated workers,” the study concludes. “Furthermore, the low trust in government among first responders suggests a need to leverage trusted nongovernmental sources to increase vaccination rates.”

ABC News’ Eric Strauss contributed to this report.

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