Entire Capitol Police department to get COVID-19 vaccine

Acting chief did not say when exactly the department would be vaccinated

US Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman pays her respects to the late Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick as they lie in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, DC on Tuesday. Sicknick died on Jan. 7 after engaging with rioters on Jan. 6 while protecting the Capitol.  (Erin Schaff/The New York Times/Pool)
US Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman pays her respects to the late Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick as they lie in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, DC on Tuesday. Sicknick died on Jan. 7 after engaging with rioters on Jan. 6 while protecting the Capitol. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times/Pool)
Posted February 4, 2021 at 1:07pm

The acting Capitol Police chief announced Thursday that all department employees will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, an announcement the union welcomes after months of pushing leadership on the matter.

“Thanks to the efforts of the Congressional Leadership, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Administration, enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been secured to vaccinate all USCP personnel,” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement.

Pittman did not say when exactly the department would obtain the vaccines nor did she outline when the entire force would get inoculated. The force has 2,249 total employees, 1,879 of whom are sworn officers, according to a Capitol Police human capital plan with data as of September 2020.

“The Department expects delivery of the vaccines to occur shortly, and is already working with the Office of Attending Physician on logistics to administer them to our employees as quickly and safely as possible,” Pittman said.

In late December, Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, told lawmakers in a memo that his office could vaccinate two staffers from each member’s personal office and four staffers for each committee chairperson and ranking member. By that time, members of Congress had already begun receiving the vaccine.

But that left front-line workers, including the Capitol Police, without immediate, comprehensive access to vaccines. Shortly after that memo went out from Monahan, the Capitol was stormed by mostly mask-less, pro-Trump insurrectionists.

Since the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob, 38 Capitol Police officers tested positive for COVID-19.

Capitol Police Officer Gus Papathanasiou, the head of the department’s union, said the union is pleased vaccines will be made available to his rank-and-file colleagues.

“The union has been pushing the chiefs for months on a vaccine,” Papathanasiou told CQ Roll Call. “The union is glad Congress stepped in to make it happen.”

On Jan. 19, Papathanasiou said most of the officers represented by the union had yet to receive the vaccine. He added, at the time, that many officers were angry they were not getting answers to when they would get it.

Pittman's future as chief is uncertain. The union has called for her resignation. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, the chairman of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, has said he supports the union’s call.

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