VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.— Virginia Beach is celebrating a new milestone in the fight against coronavirus: Hundreds of frontline firefighters and EMS personnel received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
EMS and fire department personnel were vaccinated during a drive through event Tuesday at at EMS Station 8 on Bayne Drive.
“This provides that great measure of protection for folks so we’re really excited,” said Virginia Beach EMS Chief Ed Brazle.
Over 200 frontline workers were given the Moderna vaccine Tuesday and will need to return in a month for a second shot.
Among them, Mike Pettinger, a volunteer rescue squad member of nearly 30 years, says he likely came in contact with a COVID-19 positive patient at work as recently as Monday.
“It’s important for me to protect not only my health but the health of my family,” said Pettinger.
Virginia Beach says they’ve transported at least 600 known COVID-19 positive patients to the hospital since the pandemic started in March.
Receiving the vaccine brings a sense of comfort to some as they continue to work on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“It is a sense of relief, I’m not going to deny that, but until more people are vaccinated it’s not a complete fresh breath of air,” said EMT Shanna Rone.
Rone never questioned whether to get the vaccine but she’s still working to convince others in the Black community in light of the documented history of the government using Black bodies as Guinea pigs.
“I get not wanting to be that test subject and thinking that things were rushed, but you have to convince people and have people understand that it wasn’t so much a rushed vaccine, they’ve been studying coronaviruses for some time now,” she explained.
Virginia Beach says it has over 1,200 certified personnel in the city and around 50-60 percent have signed up to be vaccinated, it’s not mandatory, but they expect more will sign up as time goes on.