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Lauderdale, Colbert ambulance crews will get coronavirus vaccine before police officers and firefighters

EMS crews will get the vaccine between Christmas and New Years.

Posted: Dec 22, 2020 9:30 PM
Updated: Dec 23, 2020 11:04 AM

Shoals officials told WAAY 31 a directive from the state means police and firefighters won't get the Moderna vaccine next week like they initially thought.

Right now, emergency service personnel will be the first to get the vaccine. This means paramedics and anyone with an ambulance service.

For Keller Ambulance they already started getting the vaccine because they are connected with Helen Keller Hospital. Between Christmas and New Years is when Shoals Ambulance employees will get vaccinated. There is no time frame on when firefighters and police officers will get the vaccine.

"We just hope as soon as possible depending on what kind of shipments the state gets in after this particular round at the end of the week they may decide sometime next week that we can start but we don't have that information definitively," said Colbert County EMA Director Michael David Smith.

Smith said they're still collecting the names of firefighters and police officers who want the vaccine.

"Because of the way the vaccine has to be stored and because of the limited availability and because of the time frame you have to wait 20 or 30 minutes they don't want everyone showing up at once," said Smith.

Smith said according to the state health department firefighters and police officers fall into the medium risk category. Now the plan is to vaccinate the high risk first responders like those who work on an ambulance.

"I'm excited I want to be the first in line. I do. I'm getting in the older generation and my immunity isn't as great as kids so I'm happy for the opportunity for this vaccine show up and I've got several of our people that are excited to get it," said Blake Hargett, the Operations Director for Shoals Ambulance.

Hargett said his employees have been coming in direct contact with covid patients on a regular basis. He said they have been allocated 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine which will be given through the North Alabama Medical Center next week in Florence.

"We probably have a little more than what we need and so we will give those back and it will trickle down the line to other people," said Hargett.

Hargett said his crews work in 24 hour shifts and they are scheduling people to get vaccinated in shifts.

"Once one of our crews works off we will send them down to get their shots then they will have a few days off to recuperate and try and get back on their feet if there is any side effects or if they feel weaker or don't feel well for a day or two. And then get back on their feet for their next shift and we will rotate them through. It may take us a week to get everyone done," said Hargett.

Hargett said this has been a stressful time for his crews but as the months have dragged on it's become normal to care for coronavirus patients and transport them.

He said being on the frontlines of the virus you see a lot more and that's why he wants the vaccine for him and his crews. Still there is no timeline on when firefighters and police officers will get it but they are next.

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