Health leaders address Sheriff Knezovich’s comments on vaccines and transmission

Ozzie Knezovich
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich
Copyright 2022 4 News Now

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington health leaders were quick to address a claim about vaccination and transmission by Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. 

In an interview with 4 News Now, Knezovich said “I’m vaccinated. I can still spread this disease, correct. Is that any different than an unvaccinated deputy?”

READ: ‘Political football’: Spokane Sheriff defends anti-mandate messaging in hiring recruitment videos

Knezovich’s statement came shortly after the Sheriff’s Office released a recruiting video flaunting “no mandatory vaccines.” It was released around the time Washington state workers were required to be fully vaccinated. 

In a Wednesday briefing, leaders with the Department of Health said Knezovich is looking at only one piece of data.

Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID response, said recent studies are showing that the United States’ vaccination efforts are substantially reducing the burden of disease and interrupting chains of transmission.

She noted that scientists are still gathering data on viral load in vaccinated people who have breakthrough cases, but said the data overwhelmingly show that unvaccinated people are more likely to catch COVID, be hospitalized or die of the virus. 

Health leaders said there is a potential that a vaccinated person with COVID could have a higher viral load and spread it, but noted that they know for sure it is more common in unvaccinated people. 

The DOH’s message was clear: everyone should get vaccinated. There was also a message for the sheriff.

“You are a first responder and you are a community leader and we are extraordinarily grateful for the service you have provided to your community and our state, and we want you to be healthy and we want you to be able to continue to serve in that role. And part of that role is protecting your community,” Fehrenbach said.