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Local firefighters receiving COVID vaccine say it’s been a smooth process

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 10:43 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Firefighters in Bryan and College Station are receiving their first rounds of vaccinations, and members of both departments say they’ve encountered no issues getting their shots so far.

While the vaccine distribution process has not gone as smoothly as expected nationwide, some shots have been available locally and going into the arms of firefighters since December 22, according to College Station Fire Department Chief Richard Mann.

“We basically wanted to have that available to them as soon as we possibly could, and fortunately we were able to get access to the Moderna vaccine,” Mann said.

Gerald Burnett is the Assistant Fire Marshal with the Bryan Fire Department. He says he hasn’t heard any problems from the people with whom he’s spoken throughout the department.

“They said it went well,” Burnett said. “I think one of our staff members mentioned they had gone over, and it went pretty smoothly. I haven’t heard any complaints from our staff, so no news is good news when it comes to that.”

For members of both departments who have received the vaccine, getting inoculated is their personal choice.

“We are offering it on a voluntary basis,” Burnett said. “We’re not mandating that anyone get it at this time.”

“Some people are excited and wanting to be some of the first available to get it done,” Mann said. “There are others that, understandably, want to have a little bit of a pause to kind of feel out the response before getting the vaccine.”

Both departments are partnering with St. Joseph Hospital to get their personnel vaccinated. After going through a screening process and filling out some paperwork, that’s where firefighters are given their shots.

“We get a list every day of members who want to get vaccinated,” Mann said. “When they get off duty, they report to the hospital to get their vaccination.”

“The other day, I did go on myself and looked at the scheduling system, and it looks like a pretty good system they’ve got set up so you can make an appointment to get your vaccination,” Burnett said.

Mann was among those who were vaccinated Monday. He says for him, it was a simple choice.

“I’ve known of a lot of very, very healthy first responders across the country, and some that I’ve known personally, who have unfortunately contracted COVID and passed away from it,” Mann said. “We know that it’s a deadly disease.”

Burnett says vaccine or no vaccine, firefighters are doing all they can to protect themselves and the public both before and after they arrive on scene for a call.

“We do temperature checks on the way in and the way out. We do status checks during the day to check on each other. We wear N-95 masks and sanitize constantly,” Burnett said. “Beyond that, I think we’re just kind of like anyone else and just doing the best we can to stay well.”

Mann also expects some of the response norms to change even after the vaccine is distributed widely enough to end the pandemic.

“I think masks are going to be considered normal when we make patient contact, certainly with those patients who are exhibiting any kind of signs or symptoms of contagious disease,” Mann said.

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