02:37 - Source: CNN
Police departments cope with officers' vaccine hesitancy
CNN  — 

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea sent a message to members of the NYPD on Friday imploring them to get vaccinated after three members of the department died from Covid-19 in a single week.

“Yet another member of our family lost their battle with Covid, Police Officer Sony Clerge of the Transit Bureau,” Shea said in a video recording obtained by CNN. “That’s the third member of our family just this week to fall to Covid.”

Since the pandemic began, 60 NYPD employees have died from Covid-19, Shea said. He also said that in the last few weeks, the police force has seen a jump from about 3 percent of the police force calling in sick to about 5 percent of the force calling in sick. He said that as the weather changes he expects this percentage to increase.

“Do everything you can at this time to make sure that you are protected. Get vaccinated,” the commissioner said.

Shea posted on Twitter last week about each of the three NYPD members who died of Covid: Officer Sony Clerge, who had served with the NYPD for more than 19 years; school crossing guard Pauline Soto, who served for nearly four years; and Detective Shantay Neal-Baker, who had served for 20 years.

Their deaths reflect the ongoing risks to officers and other workers in public-facing roles, particularly for those who are not vaccinated.

According to sources and previous reporting, 47% of the NYPD have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 44% are fully vaccinated. As CNN has previously reported, the NYPD’s vaccination figure only accounts for vaccinations administered by the department and doesn’t account for any potential vaccinations administered elsewhere.

Still, those numbers are significantly lower than the citywide vaccination rates for all adults. According to city data, 76% of adult NYC residents have had at least one dose and 69% are fully vaccinated.

Last week, at least five police departments in South Florida reported the deaths of law enforcement officers from Covid-19. So far this year, at least 107 officers have died due to Covid-19, which represents more than half of all officer deaths, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month that all city workers, including NYPD employees, are required to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing by September 13.

CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.