IAFF urges governors to prioritize FFs, EMS providers in vaccine distribution
In a letter to the National Governors Association, the union noted that more than 17,000 fire personnel have been forced to quarantine over the course of the pandemic
By Laura French
WASHINGTON — The International Association of Fire Fighters issued a letter to the nation's governors asking that firefighters and EMS providers be given top priority in each state's COVID-19 distribution plan.
The letter, signed by IAFF President Harold A. Schaitberger and addressed to the National Governors Association, states, "Absent adequate vaccination, responders will continue to be subject to lengthy quarantines when they are exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals, imposing significant costs on local governments as they backfill positions or operate understaffed, increasing response times and negatively impacting public safety."
Schaitberger notes that more than 30,000 professional fire personnel across the nation have had known exposures to COVID-19 over the course of their duties, more than 17,000 have needed to quarantine or isolate, while nearly 150 have been hospitalized and at least 19 have died due to the virus.
"All this, despite PPE use and rigorous decontamination procedures, makes vaccinating fire fighters and emergency medical personnel all the more urgent," the letter reads.
The letter concluded by asking that fire and EMS personnel be placed on the highest priority tier for the vaccine in every state.