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Deschutes County first responders begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Firefighters from Bend, Redmond get first doses at St. Charles Bend

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution is underway in Deschutes County.

Nick Thomas and Nick Gylling were among the first 18 Bend firefighters to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 

Deschutes County had 50 first responders vaccinated Wednesday at St. Charles Bend. They included firefighters, EMTs and other first responders. 

The goal for the county is to try and get another 150 first responders vaccinated over the next few weeks.

The Bend and Redmond fire departments partnered with St. Charles and Deschutes County Health Services to get the vaccinations arranged. 

Both agencies are recommending their first responders get vaccinated, although they will not require it. 

Bend Deputy Chief of EMS Drew Norris said right now, they are trying to protect those who are exposed to the most contact. 

“It’s important to get everybody vaccinated, so that the people that we’re serving out in the community feel safe, and we don’t transmit COVID from individual to individual,” Norris said. 

Steve Fiero, training captain with Redmond Fire and Rescue, agrees that protecting the community, as well as their families, are the priority. 

“One, just that we’re safer, and that we’re keeping the community safer by not potentially exposing those that are most vulnerable," Fiero said. "That's usually who we go on is the most vulnerable population."

 “I think it’s most important to protect those that we interact with," he added. "And by protecting ourselves we're also then protecting our family, so we’re not taking something home to them.”

Fiero said he is excited for the vaccine, but doesn’t think it will change things immediately. 

“You know, I’m not really sure how that’s going to change our routine," Fiero said. "And I would imagine that it’s quite some time before we actually see a change in our routine because of the vaccination.” 

Norris said he doesn’t see any immediate changes coming to Bend Fire and Rescue, either. However, he added that he's optimistic the vaccinations are a step in the right direction. 

“I think just showing people that it’s out there, and hopefully it’s going to work and that we can get back to normal life,” he said. 

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.


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