For today’s Daily COVID-19 Report, PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler interviewed officials from two agencies that have been successful in vaccinating large numbers of their employees:  The Los Angeles Fire Department, and the Israel Police.

What these two very different organizations have in common is that they both have put significant effort into providing their employees with extensive information about their vaccination programs.

In the Los Angeles Fire Department, COVID infections dropped off a cliff after vaccinations began.

Ralph M. Terrazas was confirmed as Fire Chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department in 2014, and is a 35-year veteran of the LAFD.

Chuck Wexler:   Chief, your police chief in Los Angeles, Mike Moore, told me that your department and the LA County Fire Department have had high rates of vaccinations among your employees.

Chief Terrazas:  Yes, we have 3,345 firefighters, and 55% of them have been vaccinated with at least the first dose. When we include our civilian employees, we’re a little over 60%. We just started on the second dose last week.

In addition to that, we’ve had 550 people since Thanksgiving test positive, so they have antibodies. If you add that to our 55%, we’re at about 70% who either have received a vaccine or have antibodies.

Acting on the guidance of our medical director, our firefighters are waiting a minimum of 90 days after they test positive before they get the vaccine.

Last week, I sent out a graph to all work locations showing the dramatic decline in the daily count of firefighters testing positive each day since we began the vaccinations in late December.

It’s really been significant. We’ve gone from about 20 new positive tests per day to almost zero. The curve drops so quickly to the right of the red line, when our vaccinations began.

This morning we’re at 20 people in isolation. About a month ago we were over 200. I think that’s reflective of the number of firefighters who have been vaccinated.

Wexler:  That’s tremendous, that it’s having an impact even with just the first dose. How did you get firefighters to take the vaccine?

Chief Terrazas:   Well, it’s important to understand that we’ve been engaged in COVID testing since last March, when the pandemic began. We have locations throughout the city, which our firefighters support in cooperation with civilian volunteer groups, to provide testing and vaccinating. So when the vaccines became available, we already had the infrastructure in place. With the arrival of vaccine, we just added that capability to our locations. We have 106 fire stations, and four stations have been designated as the stations where we provide the testing and the vaccinations. So for us, it’s just a matter to schedule the vaccinations.

Wexler:  I believe Mike Moore told me that some of your firefighters have been vaccinatring police officers. Do I have that right?

Chief Terrazas:   That’s correct. All of our 3,345 firefighters are either Emergency Medical Technicians or paramedics. I’m an EMT, and I was vaccinating people last Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. We asked the governor to expand our scope of practice to include vaccinating, and it was approved.  We’re vaccinating police officers, alongside nursing students and pharmaceutical students from USC. We’re really leveraging all the various groups within our city who have certification to deliver vaccinations.

Wexler: How are the vaccinations affecting the morale of your firefighters?

Chief Terrazas:    I think our firefighters are happy they have the option.  I don’t have the authority to mandate it, so I rely on three elements to motivate our people to get vaccinated.

The first one is education; the second is influencers; and the third one is incentivizing vaccinations.

-- Regarding education, I regularly send information out to the field, like the chart showing that COVID infections are way down since we started vaccinating. I also sent out a recent article in the LA Times about CDC statistics which show that allergic reactions are extremely rare for the Moderna vaccine, which is the one that we’re using.

-- Regrding influencers, my two union presidents and I went and got the shot, put it on videotape, and sent it out to all our stations, as a way to show we’re confident about it. 

And last week we had former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger getting vaccinated at Dodger Stadium, which is the largest vaccination site in the country. The local news captured that, so I included that in my message to the field.

-- The third element is incentivizing, and an example of that is that our foundation has provided some raffle prizes for stations and individuals who get vaccinated, such as bicycles and gift cards.

There’s a “vaccination hesitancy” that exists throughout society that we’re dealing with, so I don’t think I’ll ever get to 100% vaccinations in the department.  But by continually emphasizing those three strategies, I hope to get to 70 or 80%, which, when combined with those who have tested positive and have antibodies, will be very substantial.



Israel leads the world in vaccinations, and Israel Police have been encouraging vaccinations for 2 to 3 months.

Israel has the world’s highest rate of vaccine administration, with more than 35% of its population having received at least one dose, and more than 20% of its population having received both doses.

Source: Israel Police Facebook

PERF spoke with Dr. Valerie Shoshan, Chief Superintendent with the Israel Police, about the agency’s vaccination program.

Wexler: First, Dr. Shoshan, can you tell us about your role with the Israel Police?

Dr. Shoshan: I am an occupational physician, and I have a Master’s in Public Health. I have been working for the Israel Police since 2001.  My role now is to concentrate on the coronavirus and our occupational medical problems.

Wexler: How is the Israel Police going about vaccinating its employees?

Dr. Shoshan: The aim was to protect our police force and avoid interruption in our policing duty.  We invested in a huge media campaign inside our organization. We had fliers, mailings, and films on the vaccine efficacy, vaccine safety, and vaccine performance. The medical team also held Zoom meetings to answer a large spectrum of questions, explain how the vaccine works, and tell people to not be afraid. So before we began vaccinations, we made a big program inside the organization.

Wexler: How long was the education campaign?

Dr. Shoshan: At least 2 or 3 months before the vaccine. We told all about the virus and each step of the process to our police employees.

Wexler: Israel is using the Pfizer vaccine, correct?

Dr. Shoshan: All the vaccine so far is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Wexler: How did you actually administer the vaccination program?

Dr. Shoshan:   We looked for a partnership, because it was very important for us to not be alone in this venture. We partnered with a high-level hospital in Tel Aviv, which was involved in all the logistic considerations. This hospital has delivered a lot of medical resources, training, personnel, and a hotline with information.

We organized a meeting between police medical personnel and hospital personnel, and divided areas of responsibility.  

We made the decision to open four big police vaccine centers, one in the north, one in the south, one at police headquarters in Jerusalem, and one at the hospital in the center of the country. We prepared each center with an identical setup.  This partnership was successful.

Wexler: When were police offered the vaccine?

Dr. Shoshan:  Health workers had the first priority, and then first responders – police, the army, firefighters.  We began on December 27, 2020.

Wexler: How many Israel Police officers are there, and how many have been vaccinated?

Dr. Shoshan: We have 32,000 policemen, and 22,000 have received the first and second dose.  Our goal was to vaccinate about 100 people per hour. We worked five days per week during three or four weeks in all the vaccination centers.

Wexler: Is it mandatory for officers to get vaccinated?

Dr. Shoshan: No, we said to everybody that it was on a volunteer basis only. But I think we have good compliance because we made a good education program. A lot of people wanted to get the vaccine, and we had very long queues sometimes.

Wexler: Have you seen anything concerning among the people who have been vaccinated?

Dr. Shoshan:  So far, we have had some unique cases of neurology signs, but those neurology signs disappeared after a few hours. For example, a weird sensation in the face or arm, or a motor problem in the right arm. Something very short. We had 3 or 4 cases we referred to the emergency hospital, and we didn’t have problems. We also saw problems of local redness or local pain. For young people, below 50 years old, some had a big reaction after the second dose.

Wexler: Did those reactions go away quickly?

Dr. Shoshan: Yes, within two or three days. People were upset, of course, because they could not work. We had people who felt headaches or threw up or felt pain.

Wexler: Has this impacted officers’ morale? Do they appreciate the efforts of the organization?

Dr. Shoshan:   Yes, a lot. I think police officers are very grateful. The medical department work is very important, and the police officers see that.

Wexler: How many Israel Police officers have been infected? How many have died? And have you seen a decrease in infections since you began vaccinations?

Dr. Shoshan:  From the beginning of the pandemic, we have had about 2,500 police cases.  After the first, second, and third week of vaccinations, we saw a decreasing curve of the new weekly cases.

We have one police officer who has died.

Our population is very young. But we worry about post-corona, or long hauler, syndrome -- people who develop a severe disease after several months.


The PERF Daily COVID-19 Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting PERF’s COVID-19 work.