As Santa Clara County works to boost its COVID-19 vaccinations by expanding sites to get a shot, information released during a Public Safety meeting this week shows that of the sheriff’s deputies and staff, 48% declined the vaccine when asked.
“Mind-boggling number,” said Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, who was shocked because it includes a large chunk of deputies working in the jail system.
“I am a little bit speechless,” she said. “We can’t significantly reduce or eliminate outbreaks in the jail if every day we have people coming into the jail who haven’t been vaccinated.”
The sheriff’s office says some declined for medical reasons, or said they had COVID-19 recently and believe they’re protected -- others are hesitant.
To compare, the Santa Clara County Fire Department said only 15% of firefighters declined the vaccine for various reasons and nationally, the CDC says only 8% of nurses chose not to get the shot – yet.
“It is lower than the general population, so I want to know is this a firm refusal? Or is it,
‘I’m just going to wait a little bit and then get it the next time,’” said UCSF Doctor Peter Chin-Hong.
He adds that the corrections staff, especially, should be vaccinated to protect themselves, inmates, and the public.
“I want to understand what those fears are and then provide some education, some myth busting around it. Ultimately, I hope they all get vaccinated because the inmates, the people in jails and prisons are very vulnerable,” he said.
The county is now researching whether it can require deputies on patrol and in the jail to get vaccinated.
They also want a breakdown of the numbers – on why they are declining the vaccine.