Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Home » News » Local News » Letter: Vaccinate First Responders During Phase 1A

Letter: Vaccinate First Responders During Phase 1A

I am thrilled that so many in our community are anxious to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The enthusiasm to fill the limited vaccination slots makes me hopeful that Summer 2021 might be a more normal one. However…

My husband is an Alpha Fire Company volunteer and has been risking virus exposure throughout the entire pandemic. Every time a Penn State student overcooks a pizza, every time someone suffers a bad traffic accident, he runs to the fire station to offer his help to the community. He also risks COVID-19 exposure, and bringing it back to our home and our 1-year-old.

I appreciate that health risks are highest for certain populations in our community: elderly, those with preexisting conditions, etc. However, it’s frustrating that people who choose to smoke or are moderately overweight are now able to be vaccinated in Phase 1A, before our first responders. I realize the Pennsylvania Department of Health is responsible for determining the vaccine rollout plan, and my protests at that level would be ignored. But, why can’t our local vaccine sites give their surplus or near-expiration doses to our first responders (instead of non-Phase 1A friends and family of vaccine sites’ staff or whoever is conveniently on site)? I’ve heard of a frustrating number of instances of “they had an extra dose, so I got the vaccine too!” from people who don’t qualify for Phase IA.

If instead our vaccine sites called Alpha Fire Company and said, “Get a firefighter here in 15 minutes before this vaccine dose expires,” I’m sure someone would get there in time. Their average response time to an emergency in our community is typically under seven minutes, even if the emergency is just burnt popcorn.

Natasha Tirko
State College