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Deschutes County first responders wrap up COVID-19 vaccinations

(Update: Adding video, comments by vaccine recipients, others)

Nearly 400 vaccinated during six-hour clinic

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend Police Capt. Nick Parker received his COVID-19 vaccination Tuesday, then went right back to work.

“I want to stay healthy, and I definitely want to continue my job," he said. "And if we can have a healthy workforce to serve the community, that's obviously the goal.”

Parker and other Deschutes county first responders received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday. 

The six-hour clinic was held at Deschutes County Health Services and nearly 385 people were vaccinated, many of them first responders. 

Molly Wells Darling is typically a program manager with intensive adult services. Recently, she has been serving as the deputy operations chief for Deschutes County Health.

Despite the atypical position, Darling said she is satisfied with the vaccination process so far.

“It has actually gone fairly smoothly. We have a great team that we’re working with,” Darling said. “We really had to come up with a plan very quickly, once we got all our doses. We, within a day, came up with a plan on setting up a clinic.”

She said all first responders in Deschutes County who wanted a vaccine should be vaccinated by the end of the day.

Deschutes County Health now plans to move into the next sub-group of Phase 1A, including long-term health care facilities, congregate living and group homes. The move to other essential workers comes sometime after.

While the 600 Deschutes County first responders vaccinated is not everyone, Deschutes County sheriff's Sgt. and Emergency Manager Nathan Garibay said he is encouraged by what he’s seen. 

“We’re seeing an increasing acceptance of the vaccine and a willingness to get the vaccine,” he said.

Garibay said he wants the people depending on these first responders to know that they will all be healthy and available to do their job. 

“That allows us to continue our mission of delivering service to the community,” Garibay said. “We want to make sure that when someone calls 911 that there’s someone there to answer the phone, someone there to respond to the emergency, whether it’s a police officer, a firefighter or a paramedic.” 

There are still many vaccine phases and subgroups to go before a majority of the population is vaccinated, but Parker feels this is a positive step.

“Oh, to go back to what it was like before would definitely be the goal. I think we’re still a little ways away from that,” Parker said. “Today’s a perfect example of us at least seeing light maybe at the end of the tunnel.” 

Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Deschutes County / Health / News
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Noah Chast

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

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