Five emergency responders will be the first members of the D.C. Fire and EMS Department to get the COVID-19 vaccine this coming week, a sign that “the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a news release.
The group, designated "The First Five," are FEMS Chief John Donnelly, the department’s Medical Director Dr. Robert Holman, Lieutenants Joseph Papariello and Keishea Jackson, and firefighter/EMT Julio Quinteros. All are D.C. residents.
Some of the First Five expressed their desire to get vaccinated for their family members and “brothers and sisters in the firehouse” and encouraged widespread vaccination, according to the release.
“My father is everything to me; he’s my world. And if I don’t get it for any other reason, I have to get it for my daddy. I have to make sure he’s safe,” Jackson said. “I’m getting vaccinated for my city. In the last nine months, I’ve seen COVID devastate my department. I’ve seen my brothers and sisters go into the hospital. I’ve seen them with severe symptoms – things we never thought we would see. I’m getting vaccinated for my coworkers, I’m getting vaccinated for my family and I’m getting vaccinated to make a change.”
The District of Columbia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan has designated frontline health care providers among the first to receive the vaccine. Last week, the mayor and the director the Department of Health, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, announced that six sites in D.C. would receive the District’s initial allotment of 6,825 vaccine doses, the release reads.
“The vaccine is a game changer for this department and its members, who selflessly give of themselves to the hundreds of patients who call on them to help each day,” Dr. Holman said. “The best strategy for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is through widespread vaccination, and we believe getting vaccinated will not only protect our members, but those we treat and compassionately care for every day.”