DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The only first responders currently eligible for the vaccine in Ohio are EMS and those who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients. For police and other responders who can’t get it yet, they say they’re willing to wait.

“There are folks above us that really do need life-saving measures way before we do, and we all understand that,” Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44 President Jerome Dix said.

Dix said there has been an uptick in cases at the Dayton Police Department.

As they wait their turn to get the vaccine, the city and police department are pushing to make sure law enforcement are prioritized for the vaccine down the line.

“We’re pretty much a secondary coming in and being in-touch with COVID patients, having a substantial risk of contracting COVID,” Dix said.

Dix said while officers are on the frontlines, they recognize that there are first responders more at risk of catching COVID-19.

“We’re going to remain professional and we’re going to continue doing our jobs and we are going to get the vaccine as fast as we possibly can,” Dix said.

On the other hand, Dayton Fire Department members started receiving their vaccines on Christmas Eve, that’s because their firefighters are also EMTs and paramedics.

“The vast majority of Dayton Fire Department members were already able to get the vaccine,” Dayton Fire Department Public Information Officer Brad French said.

While it is a personal choice, French said the vaccine is encouraged, and the department’s been supporting vaccine distribution efforts.

“We are encouraging it, we hope to have the majority of the staff vaccinated and we continue that process now,” French said.

Ohio Department of Health provided 2 NEWS with the following statement about first responders and the vaccine:

“Governor DeWine has been clear that we are initially prioritizing populations that will result in saving lives.  Police and law enforcement, while valued greatly for their service, are not in Phases 1A or 1B. It is ODH’s expectation that vaccine providers will administer vaccines to individuals in accordance with the currently identified phases.  The department has stressed the need for consistency and fairness in vaccine distribution.”

It’s unknown which group the remainder of first responders will fall in, and when they will have access to the vaccine.