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Gratitude and admiration for the vaccinated

One year later: I’m thankful for vaccinated EMTs and paramedics and their willingness to serve others with compassion and empathy


Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Elliot Ibanez, left, receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine given by LAFD paramedic Anthony Kong at Station 4, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool

On Dec. 14, 2020, American healthcare personnel, including EMTs and paramedics, began receiving a vaccine to prevent infection from or reduce the symptoms of COVID-19. This was a momentous milestone in the nearly yearlong effort to identify, track and treat the constellation of disease symptoms caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

I have a long list of reasons to be thankful and to say thanks on this anniversary.

Thank you to the researchers and scientists. Your efforts to research, develop, trial, analyze and report to the scientific community, regulators and the public were nothing short of amazing.

Thank you to the clinical trial participants. I am grateful to the tens of thousands of Americans, of all ages, races and health, who joined clinical trials. Blinded to what they were receiving – vaccine or placebo – they willingly took a jab, reported their health in the days and weeks after each injection, and paved the way for researchers to determine the efficacy of each vaccine.

Thank you to the makers, distributors and drivers. Vaccines, because of simultaneous trials and advanced manufacturing processes, went from discovery to delivery in record time. All the members of the supply chain, from box packers to truck drivers, got vaccine vials from manufacturing facilities to point of injection sites across the country while managing complex storage requirements.

Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of public safety personnel who got vaccinated. On Day One and ever since, the vast majority of EMTs, paramedics, police officers, firefighters and corrections officers joined nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and other healthcare personnel to get vaccinated. You got vaccinated to:

  • Continue doing your job, despite dangerous understaffing, increasing public indifference about the dangers of the pandemic, and waning support for public safety.

  • Protect the health and safety of your family. For many of you, there has been nothing more important than protecting your immediate family – young and old, healthy and immunocompromised – from an infection you could bring home from work.

  • Serve the sick and fragile members of your community you interact with every day. From the homeless and addicted, to the children with special healthcare needs, to decorated war heroes and veterans of all ages, you added an extra layer of armor to help them stay healthy and live their best lives.


Read more:

‘The Year of the Vaccine’: 2021 gave us vaccine protection and pushback

From Operation Ward Speed to debate over vaccine rollout, efficacy and immunity impacts

Thank you for vaccinating others. You’ve continued a tradition that spans generations to put others before self. When you set-up community vaccine clinics, walked room to room in skilled nursing facilities and older age communities to vaccinate residents, and delivered jabs to thousands at drive-up vaccine sites, you made a choice to “serve so that others may live.”

Thank you for learning. Along the way, we’ve all learned more about infectious diseases, virology, public health and mRNA than we might have ever imagined. Thanks for asking questions; seeking out knowledge and instruction from experts and trusted sources; and attending webinars, listening to podcasts and reading articles in record numbers.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. People in your community look to you as a trustworthy source of information about healthcare. You’ve shared your knowledge and trust in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy with colleagues, friends and family. Because of you, others have chosen information over disinformation and received the vaccine.

Thank you for sharing your vaccination status. Your uniform and role are respected and admired by many. Your social media photos on the day you received the first injection, second injection and booster injection inspire and reassure. More importantly, you’ve had countless private conversations with family and friends about the vaccine, its safety and the importance of vaccination.

Thank you for continuing to serve in the face of danger. COVID-19 has killed nearly 800,000 people in the United States, including 1 in 100 of people over the age of 65. Thank you for serving your community and each patient you care for with knowledge, dignity, compassion and empathy. You’ve brought honor to our profession and should take pride in the service you provide to others.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.