AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some Austin-Travis County EMS medics and area firefighters are starting to receive their COVID-19 vaccines this weekend.
A city of Austin release said those who received their vaccine, who are some of the first in the state, started getting their first round Saturday.
“To be invited to get vaccinations earlier than expected was an opportunity we could not (and would not) pass up,” said Ernesto Rodriguez, Chief of Austin-Travis County EMS. “Getting the vaccines ahead of our expected timeline means that our hardworking EMTs and Paramedics will be able to safely care for Austin-Travis County residents all the sooner,” he added in part.
As part of Phase 1A of the Texas Department of State Health Services’ vaccination plan, Austin Travis County EMS and the Austin Fire Department expected shipments of the vaccines for their front line EMTs, paramedics and firefighters to arrive later in December, with the goal of vaccinating personnel before the end of 2020.
But with the University of Texas at Austin’s operation underway at UT health Austin, they were able to get it sooner.
Among those who got their vaccine were 25 Austin Firefighters. Fire Specialist Eli Tennefrancia from the A-shift crew at the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting station at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport became the first member of the Austin Fire Department to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. “The men and women of the Austin Fire Department have been serving on the frontlines of this pandemic since the beginning,” said AFD Chief Joel Baker. “We’re excited to be on the frontlines again with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine so that we can continue to safely serve the citizens of Austin in their times of need.”
Dr. Mark Escott, Medical Director for Austin-Travis County EMS and Interim Public Health Authority, also got his vaccine Saturday.
Vaccinations for Austin’s first responders will continue through the weekend and into next week.
The Austin area will receive 2,925 additional Pfizer vaccines and is expected to receive 15,400 Moderna vaccines in the coming week. The Pfizer vaccine is shipped in batches of 975, and the Moderna vaccine will be shipped in batches of 100, allowing smaller providers the ability to begin distributing the vaccine.
The release said City of Austin and Travis County staff who are designated in Group 1B of the state’s vaccination plan have been told the vaccine might be available to them earlier than expected as well.
Also in Groups 1A and 1B are those who work or live in long-term care facilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working directly with pharmacies on a vaccine plan for these facilities.