About half of the Solon Fire Department personnel have received the first round of the COVID-19 vaccination, Chief Mark Vedder said last week. Firefighters are also helping administer the vaccine at other area fire departments, including Shaker Heights and Berea.
Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection.
Chief Vedder said the firefighters who received the first dose are doing well. Taking the vaccine is voluntary. The state’s vaccine roll-out plan calls for first responders, healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes to be inoculated first. The second phase for those 65 and older, school officials and residents with underlying health conditions begins Jan. 19. Residents ages 80 and older will be first in line, according to state officials.
Chief Vedder said that the fire department’s recent increase in COVID-19 cases is likely linked to the rise in community infections. As of last week, eight of the 61 department employees tested positive. The cases have not affected staffing, he said.
“Fortunately we don’t have any serious medical issues with our firefighters,” Mr. Vedder said.
Many safety precautions are in place at all three stations.
The personnel began getting the vaccine on Dec. 28 and some obtained it last week as part of the program provided by Cuyahoga County.
Solon Police Chief Richard A. Tonelli said that none of his officers have been offered or received the vaccine to date.
Chief Vedder said reports indicate a slow roll-out of the vaccine, but it is important to note that there is a lack of funding and shortage of personnel to administer the vaccine including nurses who are taking care of hospital patients with the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Ohio.
“The firefighters have jumped in to help,” Chief Vedder said.
Chief Vedder said the vaccine is our only path to returning to normal life in the future.
“The safety and the efficacy of the vaccine is well-documented,” Chief Vedder said. “I have certainly encouraged our personnel to participate to protect themselves and their families as well as our community.”
Fire department emergency medical crews transport an average of three suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases a day, he said.
“I’m really hopeful there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Chief Vedder said, “and an end to this pandemic as a result of the vaccine.”
Mayor Edward H. Kraus said it makes sense that paramedics serving community residents are high on the state’s list of vaccine recipients.