As K-12 teachers, school staff and child care workers become eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine this week in Massachusetts, several unions are pushing to have firefighters help administer the shots.
The fire departments say they have the manpower to host clinics, they just need the supply, and they are meeting with state health officials this week to discuss their proposal.
Watertown Fire Chief Robert Quinn says his team is ready to respond and administer the doses right in school buildings.
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"We are more than willing to help," Quinn said. "We could mobilize a clinic pretty quickly if that's what the superintendent wanted."
In Quincy, the firefighters think they could vaccinate all of the school staff in less than 48 hours.
"We could do it in the gymnasiums of the schools. We could do it for the teachers that work there. We have the resources. We could get it done quickly, and hopefully, life would get back to normal," said Tom Bowes, the president of the Quincy Firefighters union.
Tom Henderson is the director of EMS for the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. The union is one of several groups meeting with state health officials about the proposal on Wednesday. He said the program would be similar to how first responders got vaccinated in their communities earlier this year.
"If we could just show up at a school and do this, this would streamline the process and really expedite the process to get it done," Henderson said. "We just need vaccine. As soon as we get vaccines, we're ready to go."
Gov. Charlie Baker has said the state does not have the supply to send to small-scale clinics, but they will be setting aside certain days for teachers at some of the state's vaccination sites.
Merrie Najimy of the Massachusetts Teachers Association says something needs to happen soon, otherwise teachers are going to have to take time off from the classroom just to get their shots, and the districts don't have the substitutes to cover them.
"Our educators cannot sit online all day and wait for an appointment. They're working with students. It's unsettling and it's reckless not to have a plan," Najimy said.