Canby’s dedicated emergency responders got their chance to receive the Covid-19 vaccine Monday — and Fire Chief Jim Davis and Police Chief Bret Smith were the first in line.
“If we’re going to get Covid under control, I think it’s critical that everybody does their part,” Chief Davis told The Canby Current, whose staff was invited to cover the event while abiding by strict infectious control protocols. “And that includes us here in the fire department.”
The clinic was planned in two parts: Monday’s session at the main Canby Fire main station on South Ivy, and Tuesday at Molalla Fire. First responders with Canby Fire, Canby Police, Molalla Fire, Molalla Police, Aurora Fire and Colton Fire were invited to take part.
Dr. Richard Davies, the retired longtime medical director for the Canby Fire District, and several nurses volunteered their time to administer the shots.
Davis estimated that 100 first responders would receive the immunizations between the two clinics, including 16 Canby officers and as many as 29 Canby firefighters and EMTs.
The chief acknowledged that a number of firefighters had expressed concerns or asked questions about the vaccine, which is the first messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine to be successfully developed and was created in record time.
“A lot of it is ‘Wait and see,'” he said. “They don’t want to be the guinea pigs. That’s one reason I was willing to step up. And all the chiefs are taking it, as well as the administrative staff, a number of our volunteers and our rehab group.”
He said he volunteered to receive the first shot because he wanted to lead by example.
“We want to get out of these masks,” he said. “We want to get schools back. We want to get businesses open and everything else. But if people are resistant to taking the vaccine, then we’re never going to get there.
“We hope we can encourage the citizens to come get the vaccine when it’s their turn, so we can get somewhat back to normal, but it’s still probably going to be a year or so before that happens.”
Chief Davis and Chief Smith got their shots Monday morning, simultaneously and side by side. Like all who received the immunizations, they were required to stay on-site for 15 to 30 minutes to ensure they did not have an adverse reaction.
“The same,” Chief Smith joked when asked afterward how he felt. “Honestly, that was easy. It was a very small needle. I didn’t feel it at all.”
Smith said one of his motivations for taking the shot was a personal one: his interactions with those who are older and more vulnerable to the virus, including his parents, who are in their 80s and have underlying conditions.
“Just out of respect and concern for them, I felt it was important to get it,” he explained.
Both chiefs were hopeful that the vaccine rollout represents the “beginning of the end” for the pandemic that has infected more than 113,000 Oregonians — killing nearly 1,500 — and has brought innumerable challenges and changes to the daily lives of virtually all Americans.
Canby personnel received the Moderna vaccine this week, courtesy Clackamas County, which distributed 1,000 doses for the area’s first responders and front-line health care workers.
The vaccine requires a second dose, which will be administered in a similar fashion in approximately 28 days.
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