'History in the making': EMS professionals share COVID-19 vaccine experience
As EMS providers and medical directors across the country received some of the first doses of the vaccine, many shared their reasons for getting vaccinated
By Laura French
The first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine made their way to healthcare facilities across the United States over the past week, and in many states, EMS professionals were some of the first in their region to be immunized against the virus.
EMS providers shared their optimism, relief and reasons for being vaccinated with the media and on social sites, using the hashtag #EMSVax to tell their story. Here are a few of the EMS professionals who celebrated their participation in this historic vaccination effort.
1. Paramedic becomes 1st Seattle Fire Department member to receive COVID-19 vaccine
Paramedic Alan Goto, a 22-year veteran of the Seattle Fire Department, received his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday at the University of Washington Medical Center, alongside several other frontline healthcare workers.
"As public servants who have chosen to dedicate ourselves to protecting the community, getting vaccinated is the most relevant thing we can do in this moment to fulfill our commitment to serving the public," Goto said in a statement.
2. DC Fire and EMS Members among 1st to receive COVID-19 vaccine
Shortly after the Pfizer vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, D.C. Mayor Murial Bowser announced that five members of D.C. Fire and EMS would be among the first in the district to receive the vaccine.
The "First Five" — Chief John Donnelly, Medical Director Dr. Robert Holman, Lts. Joseph Papriello and Keishea Jackson and Firefighter-EMT Julio Quinteros — received their first shots of the vaccine on Thursday at Kaiser Permanente.
"The vaccine is a game changer for this Department and its members, who selflessly give of themselves to hundreds of patients who call on them to help each day," said Holman, in a statement. "The best strategy for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is through widespread vaccination, and we believe getting vaccinated will not only protect our members, but those we treat and compassionately care for every day."
3. Rural Colo. EMS receives its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
Gunnison County's first 300 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived on Tuesday afternoon, received by Gunnison Valley Health EMS Chief and county Coronavirus Team Incident Commander C.J. Malcolm. Administration of the vaccine began on Wednesday, with EMS Medical Director Dr. Shay Krier, Colorado's EMS Director of the Year for 2020, becoming one of the first to receive the shot, according to the Crested Butte News. Dr. Lor-Anne Gibans, a geriatric physician for nursing home residents, and Lucy Hudgeons, a resident at Senior Care Center, were also selected to receive the first doses.
"These are some of the highest risk and frontline folks dealing with the coronavirus," Gunnison County Public Information Officer Andrew Sandstrom told the paper. "Part of the reason they were selected to be the first ones in the county to get the vaccine is to show it is safe and set an example for the community."
4. Phoenix flight paramedic: "History has been made today"
Phoenix Flight Paramedic Omar Turk was part of the first group of 160 healthcare workers vaccinated in Arizona on Thursday, at a drive-thru clinic run by Banner Health at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, according to AZFamily.com. Turk, a 36-year EMS veteran, said it was important for him to get the vaccine due to the confined space of the helicopter putting him in close contact with COVID-19 patients.
"I feel ... history has been made today," Turk told AZFamily.com. "I feel honored that first responders and healthcare workers are being put to the front of the line. It shows respect for us because most people are trying to stay away from the virus. We're walking towards the virus."
5. New York AMR paramedic: "A little bit of hope"
American Medical Response Paramedic Jake Stephens, of Syracuse, New York, said he is choosing to get vaccinated for his mother, who is a nurse administrator at a hospital.
"I listen to her speak every day about how weary and tired she is from the pandemic. Now, in every conversation, we have a little bit of hope. This vaccine is that hope," Stephens said.
Syracuse #Paramedic Jake Stephens of @AMR_Social is getting vaccinated against #COVID19 in honor of his mother, a #nurse administrator who is also fighting the pandemic. Thank you to Jake & his mom! #EMSvax 🚑♥👩⚕️ #COVID19Vaccine #EMS #MobileHealthcare @tweetAONL #Paramedics #EMT pic.twitter.com/nfxAVl8Ram— AmericanAmbulanceAsc (@amerambassoc) December 14, 2020
6. NAEMSP President-elect: "Renewed Optimism"
Anchorage (Alaska) Fire Department Medical Director Dr. Michael Levy, the president-elect of the National Association of EMS Physicians, reported a smooth experience getting his first vaccine shot, writing on Twitter, "Thankful to have received dose 1 yesterday. No symptoms except renewed optimism."
7. Louisiana paramedic seeks to set a positive example
Acadian Ambulance Paramedic Becky Vicknair and her colleagues were vaccinated for COVID-19 on Tuesday in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where they worked on the front lines of Hurricane Laura earlier this year.
"I'm getting vaccinated for my family, my patients and myself, and to prove to others that it is safe," Vicknair said in a statement.
Acadian Ambulance medics are some of the first in the nation to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This morning, our medical director, Dr. Chuck Burnell, received our first shipment and administered the vaccine to medics in Lake Charles, Louisiana. pic.twitter.com/UBD4Ga9ium— Acadian Ambulance (@AcadianNews) December 15, 2020
Acadian Ambulance Paramedic Becky Vicknair got vaccinated to protect herself and others, and to show her community that the #vaccine is safe. Go, Becky! #EMSvax #SupportEMS #MobileHealthcare #AlwaysOpen #NotJustaRide #COVID19Vaccine pic.twitter.com/41BGhGN92i— AmericanAmbulanceAsc (@amerambassoc) December 18, 2020
8. Conn. paramedic blogs vaccine experience
"I have had no fever, no aches and no fatigue. I didn't feel the needle go in and I did not bleed," Canning wrote. "I hope everyone gets a chance to get the vaccine soon and that they will act on it. Protect yourself. Protect your family and protect your community. That's what we do in EMS. It's our job."
Fortunate to receive COVID vaccine today. Thanks to the great scientists who developed it and all who made it possible. Thanks to CT for making EMS Priority 1A. Get the vaccine when you can and keep the masks on! We'll beat this! #EMS #CovidVaccine pic.twitter.com/FFbmm4PzlQ— medicscribe (@medicscribe) December 17, 2020
9. Fla. medical director celebrates science
Dr. Peter Antevy, a medical director for multiple Florida agencies, called the opportunity to get vaccinated "the opportunity to save many others."
"Today as we celebrate science, let's not forget those we love and those we've lost," Antevy tweeted.
Today as we celebrate science, let’s not forget those we love and those we’ve lost.— Peter Antevy (@HandtevyMD) December 16, 2020
The opportunity to get vaccinated is the opportunity to save many others. #LetsDoThis #EMSVax #Grateful pic.twitter.com/vxdt0vmjaY
10. SC EMS grateful for recognition as frontline responders
EMS providers at Piedmont Medical Center EMS received COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, with the agency calling the moment "history in the making."
"While many states did not prioritize EMS providers, we are grateful that SC and our hospital recognize the importance of protecting our prehospital providers," the agency said in a Facebook post.
11. Texas paramedic shares vaccine photo
Paramedic Greg LaMay of UT Health East Texas EMS shared this photo with EMS1 of him receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. LaMay dressed for the occasion with a festive Christmas mask as he got the first dose.
12. Calif. chief priorities protection to serve patients
Paramedics at Falck’s Alameda County operation began receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18. Chief Carolina Snypes was among the first front-line personnel to receive the vaccine at Saint Rose Hospital in Hayward, Calif.
“One of our primary duties is to protect ourselves so we can be there to care for patients who need our help, so I felt that it was my responsibility to get vaccinated,” Snypes said after receiving the vaccine. “And it didn’t even hurt."
Editor's Note: If you'd like to share your own COVID-19 vaccine photos with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured!