Hundreds of San Diego County law enforcement personnel were cleared over the weekend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and with that expanded eligibility, a La Jolla hospital opened a vaccination site that focuses for them.
Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla opened its vaccination site on Monday and said it will priortize law enforcement personnel. It said in a statement that the hospital reached out directly to agencies to inform them of available vaccine appointments. Roughly 1,600 invitations were sent to law enforcement and as of Monday morning, Scripps has gotten a response from less than 400 people.
It is unclear how many doses of the vaccine this new center currently has.
The opening and long-awaited eligibility comes after leaders in the sector voiced their concerns that law enforcement was not included as part of the first responders who were able to get vaccinated in the county’s Phase 1A and 1B of its vaccine administration.
“Many people have been shocked by the fact that law enforcement wasn’t considered as a first responder on the front lines,” Roxana Kennedy, Chula Vista Police Chief, said.
"I mean, these are our first responders. They're the ones that are running in when others are running out, and we want to protect them," said Chris Van Gorder, President and CEO of Scripps Health.
Law enforcement leaders from departments across the county have been pushing for the region to allow its employees to be vaccinated.
“We didn’t get the opportunity to stay home through any of the challenges that faced us last year and I’m proud of San Diego County law enforcement because they have not stopped doing the right thing even though they have been put in the back of the line,” Kennedy said.
"We're in the community every day. Not only for our own risk, but the risk that we pose to the public, and we really want to reduce that," Kelly Martinez of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said. "Being able to vaccinate law enforcement is going to go a long way to doing that."
Since March 2020, more than 500 law enforcement employees in the county tested positive for COVID-19 and at least one of them died from the virus.
Under San Diego County’s Phase 1B move, childcare and education employees, food and agriculture workers and those in emergency services like law enforcement and fire and emergency operations are able to be vaccinated.
Scripps Health said in a statement Monday that it plans to vaccinate law enforcement personnel at the Del Mar Fairgrounds later this week.
"We can hold ongoing clinics for law enforcement once they notify us that they would like us to vaccinate their personnel," the hospital stated.
For more information on the county’s vaccine appointments, click here.