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Local firefighters were inoculated with Clackamas Fire-provided Moderna immunizations.

COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS FIRE NO. 1 - Clackamas Fire Chief Fred Charlton receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Frontline workers all over the country have begun receiving first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Last week first responders from Sandy Fire, Sandy Police and Hoodland Fire joined the 186,896 Oregonians already in the process of being fully inoculated.

Clackamas Fire District No. 1 began vaccinating frontline firefighters and paramedics on Jan. 11. Clackamas County Public Health provided 400 doses of the Moderna vaccine to be used to inoculate Clackamas Fire personnel and first responders from neighboring public safety agencies. In Clackamas County, 20,020 people had been vaccinated by Jan. 21, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

"It's been a lengthy process," said Brian Henrichs, division chief of operations for the Hoodland Fire Department. "I hope that with our people being vaccinated it will help decrease the spread of COVID into the community and to people our firefighters might have contact with."

At Sandy Fire, Chief Phil Schneider said four of their crew, including him, got vaccines early on Jan. 14 because of unused doses health officials didn't want to go to waste. Many of the other paid staff got their first doses Jan. 19-20.

"We're hoping to try and offer (vaccines) to volunteers as well," Schneider said. "I think we'll see a fairly high rate of (folks opting to get the vaccine). (Getting the shot was) short and sweet (and) I go back in about a month for the next one."

Of the paid and volunteer staff at Sandy Fire, so far only two have contracted COVID-19 within the past year. Both are now recovered, and because of precautions, they were able to keep the rest of the staff from being infected.

"Any steps we can take to keep people safe, we will," Schneider said. "(This vaccine) is just one extra tool. We'll still be using PPE, and we're all taking precautions. If one person gets sick, that could wipe out a whole shift's crew. We were very fortunate that the folks who contracted the virus were office personnel (and) it's only been two people."

"Partnering with Clackamas County Public Health allows Clackamas Fire to access the needed vaccinations to help keep our first responders safe and healthy, as we continue to respond to the needs of the communities we serve," said Clackamas Fire Chief Fred Charlton.

Sandy Police was expected to receive vaccines this week as well, according to a statement from Clackamas Fire, but the department had not confirmed whether any officers have been inoculated by time of publication of this article.


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