Fire service organizations request priority access to COVID-19 vaccine

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(WTAJ) — A group of national fire organizations is urging governors and state health officials to make first responders a top priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Association of State Fire Marshals, and National Volunteer Fire Council all said firefighters are vital parts of the national public health system and should be treated with the same priority as other frontline healthcare workers.

“The nation’s firefighters, paramedics and EMTs serve as the first link in the COVID-19 response. These environments are unstructured, unprotected and place public safety personnel in close quarters with COVID-19 patients, causing increased exposure for the responder,” the groups stated.

“Many COVID- 19 patients are treated by a firefighter, EMT or paramedic before they are transported to a medical facility for further care.  In addition, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs often respond to emergencies unrelated to whether a caller has COVID-19 only to later learn that the individual exposed them to the virus.”

The organizations said they are concerned that states and local governments may regulate fire and EMS personnel to a lower priority tier.

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