Pittsville Fire Chief Jerry Minor did not hesitate to get immunized when the COVID-19 vaccine became available.
“Our exposure is pretty significant in emergency medical services (EMS),” said Minor, who was vaccinated Jan. 22 at Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield. “The number of calls we get where we have probable and known COVID patients has increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. I don’t want to bring anything home, or bring anything back to the station.”
If COVID-19 infects a fire department, results can be disastrous, Minor said. “Most fire departments rely on volunteers and have staffing problems anyway, even without COVID. Our department can’t afford to be shorthanded.”
Minor said he has no personal safety concerns about the vaccination. “I’ve gotten the usual vaccinations throughout my life and have not had any adverse reactions.”
Minor hopes his occupational background translates into credibility when talking vaccination with skeptical neighbors and firefighter colleagues around Wisconsin.
“Wearing a mask is the first step in protecting yourself and your family,” Minor said. “I think the vaccine is the logical next step.”
Firefighters and emergency responders are held in high esteem by rural communities, according to research conducted by the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.
“Vaccines are a critical step forward for rural communities as it means COVID-19 is less likely to overwhelm already strapped rural health care systems such as EMS,” said Casper Bendixsen, center director of Farm Medicine. “The overall health of rural communities, including socially, economically and medically, will be improved by rural community members getting their vaccine when they can.”
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin and whether you are eligible, visit marshfieldclinic.org/CovidVaccine.