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Moderna vaccine gets approval, Nevada first responders wait for immunizations

Vaccine
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Las Vegas, NV as seen in September 2020
LVMPD HQ front 2020.JPG
Posted at 10:17 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 02:24:26-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use approval for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine which means more supplies will be flowing into Nevada soon and first responders are closer to immunizations.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department anticipates their officers may get the first opportunity for a vaccine in early 2021.

"Our folks are out there like I have been from the very beginning doing the job they have to do. It's not one of those jobs where we can't say we're just not gonna come in because of this sickness," said Steve Grammas with the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.

Grammas says the department has weathered the pandemic well.

Data provided by LVMPD shows 2,663 employees have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic began to ramp up in March.

So far, 788 employees have tested positive and 26 are awaiting results as of Friday evening.

"The department is taking the stance that anybody that had close proximity contact to somebody who is COVID positive they should be quarantined. Sometimes we've had eight or nine officers from one incident get quarantined and sometimes you just have one. So, it just depends on the exposure," explained Grammas.

Other public safety agencies in Southern Nevada have been impacted by COVID-19.

Henderson Police told 13 Investigates 93 employees have tested positive since tracking began in March.

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue shows 109 employees have tested positive.

The virus, which has seen record-setting spread in recent weeks in Nevada, has not severely impacted Las Vegas police.

"We haven't gotten any phone calls that our detectives were pulled out of the detective bureau to work patrol calls for service. In certain areas there has been some movement but it's been more related to the spike in violent crime on the Strip," said Grammas.

The issue of immunizing the police force and other first responders is coming into focus.

Law enforcement is among the Tier 1 population in Nevada and will soon have the opportunity at the vaccine.

13 Investigates asked Las Vegas police about whether the department would require or force employees to get the vaccine.

Las Vegas police released a statement:

"While first responders are a priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, law enforcement is not at the front of the line. The department anticipates having access to the vaccine for employees in early 2021. At this time, there is no policy related to the vaccine, however the department is working to educate employees on its benefits and potential risks."

"I think the department will have the favor to want to try and negotiate or bargain something for folks to take the vaccine. But right now it's still preliminary," said Grammas.

As 13 Investigates has reported, Nevada workers not covered by a union may not have a choice if an employer requires a COVID-19 vaccination.

RELATED: FORCED SHOTS: Can Nevada employers require workers to get COVID-19 vaccines?

"Can an employer force you to do it? I think the answer is yes," said Rich Dreitzer, an attorney specializing in labor and employment law.

Nevada is an employment-at-will state and employers can require employees to do anything as long as it is not illegal.

Employees can also be terminated for any reason, or no reason, at all.