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Group of fire districts in Columbia County are leading COVID-19 vaccination efforts for public safety personnel.

COURTESY OF COLUMBIA RIVER FIRE AND RESCUE - Columbia River Fire and Rescue Captain Michael Gorsuch receives a COVID-19 vaccination.Columbia County fire districts have begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to local first responders.

Vaccines have been administered to 130 out of the 470 public safety employees in the county, according to a Jan. 9 press release.

The Columbia County Unified Fire Services Vaccination Group includes Columbia County, Columbia River Fire and Rescue, Scappoose Rural Fire Protection District and Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District, and is assisted by the Scappoose Police Department. The group was formed on Dec. 28 and met for the first time on Dec. 31. COURTESY OF COLUMBIA RIVER FIRE AND RESCUE - Public safety employees wait to receive the first dose of COVID-19 vaccinations in January 2021.

The group began administering vaccines on Tuesday, Jan. 5, and had vaccinated more than one-quarter of public safety employees — firefighters, paramedics, police and others — in the county within four days.

"The agencies involved haven't administered vaccines in the past for something of this size," CRFR spokesperson Jennifer Motherway told the Spotlight.

However, Motherway noted, all members were already trained or recently received training to allow them to administer a vaccination.

Oregon is in the first phase of vaccine distribution, referred to as 1A. In this phase, medical workers, staff at long-term care facilities and first responders are eligible to receive the vaccinations.OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY - This graphic from the Oregon Health Authority outlines the groups that are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1A.

"As the operational periods continue more doses will be given at various locations," a press release from CRFR stated. "This ongoing phase of vaccinations along with our required Personal Protective Equipment will ensure that essential public safety personnel will be able to stay safe and continue providing protection and crucial emergency services to the community."


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