First responders getting COVID vaccine

  • Laconia Fire Capt. Chad Vaillancourt gives COVID-19 vaccination shot to Laconia Firefighter Rick Farrell. First responders have begun receiving inoculations against the coronavirus under the state 1A vaccination program. (Courtesy photo/Laconia Fire Dept.)

Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 1/6/2021 9:25:36 PM
Modified: 1/6/2021 9:25:25 PM

New Year’s Eve was special for Laconia Police Chief Matt Canfield. That’s when he got his COVID-19 vaccine shot.

For just over a week now, firefighters, EMTs and police officers have been getting vaccinated against the coronavirus that, as of Monday, had infected 20.9 million Americans, 47,328 of them in New Hampshire.

First responders are part of the state’s first phase of vaccine distribution. Health care workers and people associated with long-term care facilities have already begun receiving their shots.

All first responders in the area are expected to receive the first of the two required inoculations within the next two to three weeks, according to Canfield.

Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee and Fire Chief Stephen Carrier have also both rolled up their sleeves, as has Laconia Fire Chief Kirk Beattie, while Belmont Police Chief Mark Lewandoski was waiting Monday for the appointment for his shot.

“I try to lead by example,” Carrier said, of the vaccination program, which is strictly voluntary.

Beattie said 70% of the 30 firefighters/EMTs in the department had already indicated they would be getting the vaccine, and he expected more would be doing so as the week progressed.

Carrier said the indication he had was that 11 of the 36 full-time and call company personnel would be getting vaccinated.

“There’s been hesitancy on the part of some employees,” he said of low participation, because of mixed feelings surrounding the vaccine.

First responders who wish to get inoculated must pre-register individually through a web-based application designed especially for COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Those who register then have their names matched up against the roster submitted by police and fire chiefs across the state to make sure they are qualified to receive the vaccination during Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination program. Only then do they receive an email telling them when and where to go for their shot.

The chiefs said they do not necessarily know who on their force is choosing to get vaccinated and who is not. Nor are they inquiring as to the reasons anyone has for not getting the vaccine.

“I respect their choice to get it or decline,” Canfield said.

Surveys in recent months have shown widespread skepticism about the vaccine after the Trump administration’s push to get it out before the November election.

A national survey by the American Nurses Foundation in October found nurses almost evenly split when asked if they’d voluntarily be vaccinated against the virus, with 36% saying no, 34% saying yes, and 31% unsure.

Canfield said he weighed the pros and cons of getting the vaccine and decided to do so, in large part to be protected from the possibility of long-term symptoms related to COVID, even among those who had just a mild case of the virus.

But he suspects those choosing not to get inoculated are doing so for one or more of the following reasons: The vaccines were rushed in order to make them available quickly to the general population, the possibility of adverse side-effects, and because of opposition to any kind of vaccination.

First responders are receiving the Moderna vaccine, which requires a second shot 28 days after the first inoculation.

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