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Palm Beach County PBA president: Law enforcement should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine

John Kazanjian worries officers will compete with public for access
'We need to get vaccinated now,' John Kazanjian, president of Palm Beach County PBA, says of COVID-19
Posted at 5:43 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 17:44:39-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — They risk their lives to serve and protect.

But the president of Palm Beach County's law enforcement union worries with Florida opening up COVID-19 vaccine access to anyone 18 and older on April 5, law enforcement officers will have to compete with everyone else to get inoculated against coronavirus.

"We go to houses, we go to car crashes (and) we go to robberies or whatever the call may be, and you've got the possibility, the potential, to contracting the disease at that time," Gregory Allen said.

Allen is a veteran police officer and an executive board member at the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association.

He contracted COVID-19 last summer. His parents also got the virus, and all three were hospitalized at the same time.

Gregory Allen, police officer who was once hospitalized because of COVID-19
Gregory Allen, a veteran police officer who serves on the board of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, says at one point he, his mother and his father were all hospitalized because of COVID-19.

"My mother and I [were] at (Palm Beach) Gardens [Medical Center]," Allen told Contact 5. "My father was at St Mary's (Medical Center)."

Allen said he didn't think he was going to make it out of the hospital.

"A lot of sleepless nights, scared to go to sleep, because I didn't think I was going to wake up," Allen said. "I was scared I was going to die."

The 53-year old officer and his mother both beat the virus, but his father passed away.

"That was a horrible feeling, to get that news over the phone that he had passed," Allen remembered.

Fully recovered, Allen wants to see all law enforcement officers get the vaccine.

John Kazanjian, president of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, agrees.

"We're the first ones to respond, alright," Kazanjian told Contact 5. "We have to come in contact with these individuals, whether we have to do CPR, whatever."

Kazanjian says the pandemic has taken a toll on law enforcement.

"Just here in Palm Beach County, we've had four deputies pass away (from COVID-19), three of them under 50," Kazanjian said.

Those four officers' memories are captured on the wall of honor at the PBA, where all officers who passed away in the line of duty are remembered.

Gregory Allen looks at wall of honor at Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association
Gregory Allen looks at pictures commemorating the law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty on the wall of honor at the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association.

"Law enforcement, corrections, no matter how old you are, we need to get vaccinated, and we need to get vaccinated now," Kazanjian said.

Still mourning his father's loss, Allen is hoping his fellow officers can get the COVID-19 vaccine soon so that no more names and faces end up on the wall of honor.

"Hopefully, brothers and sisters out there can get a vaccine as soon as possible," Allen said. "The sooner they can get it the better, because they still have to continue work on a daily basis."

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