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Mich. Investigating If Officers Were Eligible For Flu Shots; Cops, Firefighters Not Deemed 'High-Risk'

The Associated Press

DETROIT, Mich. (AP) - The state is investigating whether 35 police officers in two Detroit suburbs were eligible for flu shots when they were immunized through a Wayne County program.

Under a statewide order signed last month, flu shots can be distributed only to high-risk groups such as people 65 or older; people ages 2 to 64 with a chronic health problem; pregnant women; and caregivers of children younger than 6 months.

"If you asked me, was our public health order violated, I'd say we don't have enough information right now to make the right determination," T.J. Bucholz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Community Health, told the Detroit Free Press for a Thursday story.

But, he added, "We said this early on, that cops and firefighters didn't fall into high-risk groups."

Violators of the state order may face six months in jail, a $200 fine or both.

In Grosse Pointe Farms, 30 of the Department of Public Safety's 42 sworn officers received flu shots earlier this month, said Dan Jensen, the department's deputy director. About four of 40 officers in neighboring Grosse Pointe Woods got flu shots.

"Our exposure rate is probably the same as a doctor or a nurse," Jensen said. "If one officer gets that bug, you can be sure that it will go through the department, kind of like a kindergarten class. ... We're first-responders and we deal with a ton of people a day. I can't worry about other police departments. We asked for this, and we got it."

Grosse Pointe Woods City Administrator Mark Wollenweber said: "The criteria is that you must be a first-responder. We followed county guidelines. If you met the criteria, you were able to get a shot."

Bucholz acknowledged that some police officers might be considered high-risk if they are certified as a first-responder, a designation many officers earn to assist ambulance crews.

Detroit police are certified as first-responders, but have neither requested nor received flu shots, spokesman James Tate said.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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