Officials on Wednesday finally gave the green light for some NYPD officers to get COVID-19 vaccinations but it remained unclear how many cops would get inoculated after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio gave conflicting messages about who would be eligible.
During his daily briefing, de Blasio said the plan would begin immediately and he expected 10,000 patrol cops to be inoculated by Sunday. De Blasio said a total of 25,000 NYPD personnel were in the eligibility group.
But during his own daily briefing Wednesday, Cuomo said: "Police who are not health care workers are not yet eligible. We need to get the health care population done first because they are the front line."
The governor said police officers statewide with EMS training are eligible.
FDNY personnel began getting shots a week ago, according to fire union officials. One union official who didn’t want to be named said because firefighters have more emergency medical training, they were vaccinated first.
NYPD officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for details. The conflicting information from Cuomo and de Blasio frustrated some police union officials who said they had not received details about how the shots would be administered.
Paul Di Giacomo, head of the Detective’s Endowment Association, said that while his group had not received any official notice, he believed vaccines were being administered Wednesday at the police medical center in Queens.
The NYPD medical unit is under the supervision of the department’s chief surgeon, Dr. Eli J. Kleinman, who was unavailable for comment.
In a statement Wednesday, Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, applauded plans to roll out the vaccine to cops and said officers should be put into the category of health care workers. Lynch said cops work side-by-side with other emergency workers in handling those infected with COVID-19.
"When we respond to emergency scenes or hospital wards," he said, "we need the same vaccine protection."
Officers had expected to begin getting shots a week ago but that didn’t materialize.
It was unclear what percentage of officers might decide to get vaccinated. At a news briefing last week, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that while the number of cops who got flu vaccines was relatively low — about 3,000 out of about 35,000 officers — higher numbers indicated they were interested in the COVID vaccine.
With Matthew Chayes and Bart Jones