First responders in Massachusetts will roll up their sleeves across the state on Monday to receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some communities have already administered the vaccine to emergency responders.
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In Needham, the city’s public health department will administer the vaccine to police and firefighters from there and surrounding towns.
Emergency responders in Dover and Medfield will also get the vaccine.
Needham Police Chief John Schlittler and Needham Fire Chief Dennis Condon will be the first in their department to receive the vaccine Monday morning.
"It’s something that we’ve looked forward to. You kind of look at it maybe as a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, some hope,” Schlittler said.
The police chief says he’s getting it without hesitation.
“I think it’s something that’s crucial for our first responders to have that to ensure that we’re safe for the people that we're servicing in town, and our co workers and so forth,” he said.
Dr. Michael Hirsh, the Worcester Medical Director, says this weekend 161 additional UMass Medical students were trained to administer the vaccine for their clinic.
“The students are bright eyed and bushy tailed. They’re raring to go. They’re so eager to try to join the fight....I’m really pumped it just feels like we’re going into battle and we have a tremendous team,” he said.
He says close to 300 first responders are signed up for Monday.
"I couldn't be more excited," he said.
Dr. Hirsh says he’s already gotten the vaccine, and has a message for anyone who is hesitant to get it:
“The vaccine was not invented in like some bath tub in March and then suddenly rolled out, it’s the culmination of about 20 years of research that has been a result of responding to the SARS epidemic in 2003, and the MERS epidemic in 2005, and HINI in 2009,” he said.
Dr. Hirsh believes we’ll see a real dent in the COVID numbers in March.
“This vaccine is so effective we’re going to start seeing the numbers peak and then go away,” said Hirsh.
During a press conference this week, Gov. Charlie Baker laid out three ways the vaccine can be administered. Departments can have the vaccine administered on site and should visit Mass.gov/firstrepondervaccine.org for more information.
First responders can also get the vaccine at one of over 60 different sites in the state. The state plans to set up mass vaccinations sites across the Commonwealth.
Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park are both expected to be large scale vaccination destinations for first responders moving forward.
Baker said his administration is working with local police and fire departments to roll out a plan to ensure vaccine efforts.