Comox firefighters are usually rushing to fires, car accidents or medical calls. They even travel to other parts of the province in wildfire season to help douse burning forests, but lately, they’ve been doing something entirely different.
Members of the department have been providing hundreds of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’ve worked a number of days and some days we have 20 or 30, some days we’ve had over 60 vaccinations in one shift. It’s a neat experience and we’re happy to help the community,” said Lieutenant Brent Craven of Comox Fire Rescue.
Assistant Fire Chief Jim Lariviere says he has personally administered about 300 vaccinations.
“We like to contribute to the community and this is another way we can do it,” said Lariviere.
“Six firefighters from Comox Fire Rescue have stepped up in the fight against COVID-19 and joined the vaccine booster team through Island Health. They have been assisting in the booster campaign since December and are scheduled to continue immunizing until the end of February. Collectively to date, they have administered over 1000 vaccinations to the Comox Valley community,” said the Town of Comox in a statement Friday.
Island Health says the extra help has been a critical factor in getting Vancouver Islanders vaccinated as more registered nurses and LPN’s return to providing acute care in hospitals.
“We have firefighters, pharmacists, dental hygienists and I would say about half the doses we’re giving out are provided by those people who have come from outside the health authority to support the campaign,” said Island Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Mike Benusic.
Island Health says it is administering 35,000 to 40,000 doses of vaccine a week on the Island and over 400,000 people have received their booster. That is just over 55 per cent of those eligible.
“What we are seeing right now is the bulk of people who are admitted to the intensive care with Covid-19 remain as unvaccinated adults, so we’re still absolutely seeing that there’s a massive benefit and the most important intervention against COVID-19 remains that first dose of vaccine,” added Benusic.