A local police officer died of COVID. When will other SFPD vaccine deniers wake up?

By The Examiner Editorial Board

By The Examiner Editorial Board

Officer Jack Nyce should still be alive today.

Sadly, the 17-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department died of COVID-19 on Nov. 6. The 46-year-old Army veteran left behind a grieving wife who choked back sobs as she spoke to reporter Rachel Swan of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Nyce died a preventable death from a virus for which effective vaccines exist. COVID has been the No. 1 cop killer during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, Nyce was one of dozens of officers who has refused to comply with a mandate for city employees to get vaccinated. Nyce died while on unpaid leave after missing the vaccination deadline, but his wife refused to tell the Chronicle whether he had received the vaccine.

The answer seems clear enough. Nearly all current deaths due to COVID are happening among unvaccinated people. Our 20-month-long public health nightmare is being complicated and prolonged by people who refuse vaccines. Too many of them are sacrificing their lives on the altar of anti-science stubbornness.

A San Francisco police union official originally defended anti-vaccine officers by saying they just wanted to see more data. The data, however, has been clear for quite some time. Vaccines save lives and reduce the severity of the disease in those who do experience rare breakthrough cases. These miracle vaccines are like Kevlar vests that protect humans from a virus that has killed 750,000 Americans and a total of 5 million people worldwide.

But let’s be real: Data is not really the issue here. Despite solid scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, some people still refuse to take them. Their views on the subject have been distorted by disinformation and political treachery, with conservative politicians promoting vaccine resistance as some kind of warped patriotic duty (often while getting vaccinated themselves).

Unfortunately, a small but formidable number of people in American society have fallen prey to the disinformation campaign against vaccines. Provoked by false claims and perverse definitions of “freedom,” they are playing Russian roulette with a deadly virus. Many of them will leave behind family members who will likely spend the rest of their lives shadowed by profound grief and regret.

Employer vaccine requirements, which protect lives and will allow us to return to some semblance of normalcy, have exposed a streak of anti-science attitudes in our midst. While most Californians and San Franciscans have been vaccinated, public health authorities have encountered pockets of resistance among police officers, firefighters, transportation workers and some health care workers. The mounting death toll among vaccine doubters and stragglers does not seem to affect them.

In October, after hundreds of SFPD officers appeared unlikely to meet the vaccination deadline, Chief Bill Scott announced plans to reshuffle his department’s staffing to replace officers facing unpaid leave for refusing to follow the rules. At the time, The Examiner Editorial Board called on SFPD officers to stop resisting science and get vaccinated before it was too late.

The editorial quoted the family members of three American police officers who died of COVID after rejecting vaccines. If police officers won’t listen to doctors and scientists, the editorial reasoned, perhaps they would listen to the families of police officers who had died preventable deaths. Unfortunately, Officer Nyce’s family has now joined the ranks of the grieving.

Hopefully, the remaining holdouts among his fellow officers will honor his memory by getting their COVID jabs before tragedy strikes again. With 97.5% of SFPD employees vaccinated as of Nov. 2, it’s clear The City’s vaccine mandate for public employees has worked. The only question now is how many more SFPD officers and employees will lose their jobs, or their lives, due to science denial.

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