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‘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


Photo/Greg LaMay

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.


Photo/Seattle Fire Department

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.”[0]=AZX7xoj1geh0ouQurGs1_donNLqyEiw7XkxKqjBjL53SYW7GZlv9hjfE3urhyPLcEhxg1VqPhQY0mWpZNs_oXQ2xv1-psRjhurvd2rgkJG1PJI0psCUBe-kdod4YzdOque2-ADB-H_1-q468kaMdcoji&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R

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.”

COVID Vaccine - GVH  EMS Newspaper.png

Photo/Courtesy of Crested Butte Fire Protection District Commissioner Sean Caffrey

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 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 “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.

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.

8. Conn. paramedic blogs vaccine experience

Connecticut Paramedic Peter Canning, the author of several EMS fiction and non-fiction books, wrote about his COVID-19 vaccine experience on his blog Street Watch: Notes of a Paramedic.

“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.”

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.

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.[0]=AZWg8bWGcQjY8kM-WRsDLE9cmEZ5DJ16UR6kPLjkhhyhHC0SkmPL7FJzlEM91u5b11F9GqkBmkcVy96cvbxwzrGq8R0_UkyyEBOFVZ8jazlXINqEgiOgGoTGgzNMsReDy7uGx_-9XkDc8Z0ws9sTOnaP&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R

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.


Photo/Greg LaMay

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.”


Photo/Derek Hanley - Falck

Editor’s Note: If you’d like to share your own COVID-19 vaccine photos with us, please email us at to be featured!