Major firefighter organizations urge state leaders to prioritize first responders for COVID-19 vaccine
BATON ROUGE - As states start to roll out plans for their COVID-19 vaccine distribution, priority lists will not be able to please everyone.
"We're an integral part of the health care system, and we should be included in the first phase," Chad Major said.
Major is the president of the Professional Firefighters Association of Louisiana.
He says firefighters are the first line of defense and transport COVID patients every day.
"We're not asking to be prioritized because we're better than anyone else. What we're saying is we need to be protected so we can continue to do our jobs and serve the public," Major said.
The International Association of Firefighters wrote a letter to governors across the nation asking for priority access.
Shane Spillman is the president of the Baton Rouge Firefighter's Association, an affiliate of IAFF.
He says COVID-19 has killed 20 members of the IAFF over the past nine months.
"Our guys are on the frontlines before anybody else. Being first responders, we're usually the first ones who have contact with a patient on the scene," Spillman said.
He says about 100 firefighters in Baton Rouge have had to quarantine since March. Spillman believes this is evidence that firefighters should be among the first to receive the vaccine.
"We have the first interaction with the patient, so I think it just makes sense that those truly on the front line should be the ones who are vaccinated first," Spillman said.
Major firefighter organizations are urging the governor and state health officials to bump them up in line for the vaccine.
The CDC currently has them in the second group.