Data: Majority of RI’s police, fire personnel are fully vaccinated


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For weeks, state leaders have been lamenting that the pandemic has become one of the unvaccinated.

That’s why they’re encouraging Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated as soon as they can, and are even requiring the state’s health care workers to be fully immunized by Oct. 1.

Health care organizations have expressed concern over Gov. Dan McKee’s vaccine mandate, arguing that it will lead to a flurry of resignations and exacerbate the current staffing shortage.

But when it comes to first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, the situation is much different.

A Target 12 analysis of vaccine data from police and fire departments across the state reveals the majority of them have been fully vaccinated. (See a full list of the compiled data below.)

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi said there are currently 20 firefighters who remain unvaccinated within the town’s fire department.

He said a memo was sent out Tuesday warning those who are unvaccinated that they would be terminated if they weren’t fully immunized by Oct. 1.

“Within a few hours, 10 of those 20 made an appointment to be vaccinated,” Lombardi said.

Right now, 12 News Law Enforcement Analyst Steven O’Donnell estimates that the number of unvaccinated people within the state’s police and fire departments is between 15% and 20%.

The statistic alone, he said, supports his theory that there won’t be a mass exodus of police officers and firefighters who refuse to get vaccinated.

“Those in law enforcement and fire are rule followers,” O’Donnell said. “They might not agree with it, but they’re rules followers because that’s the job they took.”

When it comes to the few who do decide to leave their departments, O’Donnell said the likelihood of this impacting staffing levels is low.

“Police and fire in general, I don’t think they’ll be impacted if they’re short couple of people,” he said. “They’ll just backfill that with overtime.”

O’Donnell said he doesn’t believe vaccine requirements, if departments issue them, will be problematic, especially with police officers.

“Police can’t really pick and choose which rules they follow,” O’Donnell said. “The law says what to do and if the emergency order says this, you have to follow it … If you don’t follow it, you have to take whatever consequences come with it.”

Vaccine data among Rhode Island police departments:

Department*Sworn personnelFully vaccinatedUnvaccinated
Little Compton10100
North Kingstown5160%
North Smithfield25232
West Greenwich12120
West Warwick4480%
*Target 12 reached out to all of the state’s police departments requesting vaccination data. Several departments, including Coventry, East Greenwich, Jamestown, Lincoln and Providence, said they do not track the vaccination rate among personnel, while the remaining departments didn’t respond.

Vaccine data among Rhode Island’s fire departments:

Department*Sworn personnelFully vaccinatedUnvaccinated
East Providence1151114
Little Compton13130
North Kingstown69663
North Providence947222
North Smithfield23194
*Target 12 reached out to all of the state’s fire departments requesting vaccination data. While many are volunteer departments and don’t track vaccination rates among personnel, several others didn’t respond.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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