First responders get first doses of COVID vaccine

SPOKANE, Wash. — First responders rolled up their sleeves Monday morning for the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine. By 4 p.m., 135 first responders received their shots.

The Spokane Fire Department set the goal of getting 2,500 firefighters and other emergency personnel vaccinated as quickly as possible. The department says it will start increasing the number of first responders getting shots to between 200 and 300 per day within the week.  This clinic is an initiative of the Spokane County EMS and Trauma Care Council in Partnership with Spokane Regional Health District.  A number of EMS provider agencies have contributed to developing this clinic for our first responder community

When they put appointment times online, spots were filled up within minutes for these first two days.

Over the past nine months, first responders have had to wear everything from face masks to entire protective suits to keep themselves safe from the virus. While they will still wear PPE out on calls, this vaccine comes as a huge relief.

“We all have to go back to our families and we need to be safe for our families so we have to trust that we’re wearing what we’re wearing to be safe,” said Tom Chavez from Spokane County Fire District 8.

The vaccine is not required for these first responders in the area, but Spokane Fire wants to be very aggressive in getting them out, so they can get to the community as a whole even sooner.

“Hopefully, once the community gets involved, we hope to be somewhere around mid-summer. That’s the goal,” said Chavez.

There were a handful of medical officers that administered the vaccine to each other last week. The hope was to monitor for allergic reactions.

“Yeah there was a mild little pain in my left shoulder, but that dissipated after a while,” said Ken Witter with the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

“When I got it, I basically had a sore arm right at the injection site,” recounted Chavez. “I felt maybe a little tired the next day, but nothing that slowed me down, and after about the third day I felt fine.”

Firefighters want you to know this is one of the easiest things to do to help end the pandemic.

“I think this is one of the simplest things you could do to help prevent the spread, and boy, if everybody did it, we’d be set,” said Witter.

The vaccine these first responders are receiving are from Moderna. They will receive the second dose between 28–35 days after the first one. Spokane Regional Health District gave 2,000 doses of the vaccine to the Fire Department this week and it will receive 2,000 more next week.