ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards isn’t mincing words when asked about the vaccine rollout.
“It disappoints me,” Edwards said. “We ought to have vaccines in the city of St. Louis at this time. And we do not.”
The former circuit judge now oversees the city’s largest department, with more than 3,400 employees.
As the public safety director, he is responsible for police, fire, EMS, and corrections – first responders who work face to face with the community.
He said it is critical that those workers get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is an expectation that any time a citizen calls a police officer, a firefighter, or EMS, that they will respond. And that they will respond quickly,” he said. “And when they’re having these types of encounters, it not only puts them at risk, it puts their families at risk. And so I’m very, very concerned about that.”
Public safety workers are next in line to get the vaccine. But the first wave of vaccinations for 1A needs to be completed. The state of Missouri is still making sure those individuals—which include frontline healthcare workers—are addressed.
“I respect the way the priority is, with respect to nurses and doctors and those people who are hands are every single day. What I’m asking for is efficiency,” Edwards said. “I’m very impatient with the speed of the distribution of the vaccine in the City of St. Louis, as it relates to our first responders.”
The St. Louis City Department of Health has been providing COVID-19 updates about the status of city employees.
In the meantime, first responders continue to follow CDC and department guidelines to ensure their safety, and those with whom they come into contact.
Edwards said he has not been given a firm timeline for public safety workers.
“Whether it’s the end of January. Whether it’s February. Whether it’s March. Unfortunately, I’ve received no notice. As to when we might we may be in line to receive the COVID vaccine,” he said.
Edwards said he is doing his part to speed up the distribution process.
“I am very aggressive, as it relates to talking to our health providers, the pandemic task force, and trying to talk to the state of Missouri, to try to provide vaccines for our first responders in the city of St. Louis,” he said.