CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — Less than half of uniformed and civilian personnel in the NYPD is vaccinated, according to new data, a sign of vaccine hesitancy within the department.
In other grim reminder of the toll COVID has taken on New York City: the 60th member of the NYPD passed today from COVID. Sony Clerge was a 19-year police veteran who helped keep the transit system safe.
The news of Clerge’s death came on the same day Mayor Bill de Blasio was tweeting about how, for the second week in a row, 100,000 New Yorkers received their first vaccine dose; 59% of those doses in August have gone to Black and Latino New Yorkers.
But the vaccination rate among the NYPD is nothing to brag about. It stands at 47% among uniformed and civilian personnel.
The head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, Ed Mullins, blamed police brass for not reassuring the rank and file that vaccines are safe.
“I am pro-vaccine, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Mullins told PIX11 News. “A lot of people reflect on 9/11 when thousands died and they were told the air was safe. And they say ‘They lie to us in the past,’” he added.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking on the Brian Lehrer show, said there are many reasons for vaccine hesitancy among the NYPD’s 35,000 uniformed officers, where the majority are people of color.
“For some, it may be philosophical,” the mayor said on the radio show. “What we see in communities of color, there’s a hesitancy of the medical establishment and a history of structural racism,” he added.
De Blasio ordered that all unvaccinated NYPD wear masks at all times, something that anecdotally doesn’t seem to be happening.
Democratic Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams, a retired NYPD captain, tweeted that the NYPD must follow the rules to keep everyone safe. And Republican Mayoral Candidate Curtis Sliwa, at the scene where a Crown Heights woman died from a stray bullet, urged all NYPD to get vaccinated:
“Vaccinate! Hey, look I got my two shots,” Sliwa told PIX11 News. “It’s not gonna kill you. The more guys and gals in the department get it, the better they can be as an example to the community.”