COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Mass. first responders begins

WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - First responders lined up across the Commonwealth to get a COVID-19 vaccine Monday.

Firefighters, police officers, and EMTs have the option to receive their first vaccine dose at dozens of locations across the Bay State.

Worcester Police Chief Steven Sargent and Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie were first in line at the Worcester Senior Center.

“It’s tremendous for our community,” Sargent said. “The men and women of the police department, there’s always that fear, and the fire department and EMTs, we worry about bringing it home to our families as well, but also working with the community, we don’t want to be super-spreaders.”

In the late two weeks, 95 Massachusetts firefighters tested positive for the coronavirus and almost 700 are currently in quarantine.

“We’ve seen firehouses where the whole group either has to be quarantined or gets COVID, which means the rest of us have to work longer and extra hours,” said Rich MacKinnon Jr., president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts. “It’s affecting us hard. This vaccine is something that’s much needed in the first responder community.”

The vaccine for first responders is voluntary but firefighters in Whitman say they see it as an important part of their duty to save lives.

“It’s been a trying year for a lot of people so if this is a window out and nearing 100 percent safety for the community, then I think we should all do our part and get a vaccine,” Firefighter Russel Lucas said.

Gov. Charlie Baker says the state will also start rolling out vaccines to nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the week.

“We know that the vaccines can’t be administered fast enough,” he said, “and the command center and DPH are working hard with our federal and local partners to vaccinate residents as quickly and safely as possible.”

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