First responders wonder when they will receive their COVID-19 vaccinations

WatchFirefighters are listed as a priority group for the Covid-19 vaccine. But despite assurances from public health officials, there's still no word on when they'll get their shots. Mary Griffin reports.
Saanich Fire Assistant Deputy Chief Rob Heppell said the department's 130 members are still waiting to hear when they will receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Saanich firefighters are out on the frontlines every day.

But Assistant Deputy Chief Rob Heppell said the department’s 130 members are still waiting to hear when they will receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are here to maintain that level of service in our communities, and protect the safety and security of our residents,” Heppell said. “It’s critically important for us to receive those injections as soon as possible.”

On Wednesday, Island Health issued a statement promising that first responders like firefighters, police and paramedics are “first priority” in the workplace vaccination program and Saanich firefighters will be notified when it’s their turn.

“As Dr. Henry said on Monday, ‘We will continue vaccinating frontline workers with our early focus on first responders, school-based staff and child care staff, starting with those communities where the risk is highest and moving through all of our first responders, school-based and child care staff in the coming weeks,'” Island Health said.

It’s not just first responders in B.C. wondering when they’ll get their shot.

Edmonton’s fire chief tweeted a plea for vaccinating the department’s 1,300 members after 65 firefighters tested positive, resulting in staffing issues with 4,500 absences.

While the Saanich fire department remains healthy, the concern is how quickly things could change.

“We only have so many members,” Heppell said.  “If we’re in a situation where we may have several cases of COVID, and people who are required to self-isolate, that can seriously diminish our ability to respond.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said first responders will get their shots, but it may take time as delivery delays affect the province’s vaccination program.

READ MORE: ‘That will be it for this moment,’ Dix says of AstraZeneca shortage on Vancouver Island

“First responders are amongst the highest priorities there. So we think it’s important to protect our first responders and that’s why they’re right at the top of the list,” said Dix.

For now, firefighters and other first responders are waiting their turn as part of the province’s age-based system.

READ MORE: B.C. reports over 860 new COVID cases, seven deaths

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!