Many Bay Area cops clamoring for COVID vaccine

Oakland police officers are still waiting to get their coronavirus vaccines. So are San Francisco police.

"We're boots on the ground. We're the ones out on the street, contacting people," said Tracy McCray, vice president of the San Francisco police union.

Also waiting for vaccines is the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, which lost a civilian technician and deputy to the virus. Nearly 100 deputies have tested positive.

"Our county public health has pushed us back," said Kevin Lewis, president of the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Association.

Lewis said deputies realize they may have to wait, but they're concerned they haven't been given any timetable.

"We're here every day at work. We can't work from home. We can't zoom public safety," Lewis said. "We're out there and we have to deal with this and we have been every day since the pandemic."

So that means some officers may be getting vaccines from their own doctors. Other officers are still in limbo.

"I can imagine their frustration, if I was in their spot. I'd be angry to say the least," said Paul Kelly, who heads the San Jose Police Union.

Kelly said his officers began getting their vaccines a couple of weeks ago.

"There should be no reason in the world that firefighters have gone through it and then there's  empty seats and vaccinations sitting there that the law enforcement isn't getting," Kelly said.

Police and deputies are frustrated because there's no standard process for law enforcement access to vaccines. It all depends on the jurisdiction.

"We're still looking at other avenues to get our members vaccinated," said McCray, from the San Francisco police union. 

McCray said more than half of the department's 1,500 patrol officers have been exposed to the virus. About 149 officers have tested positive. All that affects staffing.

"Let's face it, if we drop off and can't do our job, what do you think is going to happen in the streets, right, if we can't, if we don't have the manpower to respond to all the calls that we respond to?" McCray said.

Health care workers and long-term care residents were the first to get vaccines. The elderly and police officers are in the next group, and the timetable varies depending on the county and how much vaccine is available.