DC first responders to be vaccinated on camera in confidence-building push

DC first responders to be vaccinated on camera in confidence-building push
© Greg Nash

A group of five Washington, D.C., first responders will publicly get the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a confidence-boosting effort, The Washington Post reported.

The group, which includes the acting fire chief, three firefighters and the department’s medical director, will be among the first people in the city to receive the vaccine. Other firefighters will receive theirs later in the week.

"I’m getting vaccinated for my city,” Lt. Keishea Jackson told the Post. “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.”

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Jackson will be joined in receiving the vaccine by acting Chief John Donnelly, who was one of the first District firefighters to catch the virus earlier in 2020. Also receiving the shot are medical director Robert Holman, firefighter and emergency medical technician Julio Quinteros and firefighter Joseph Papariello, according to the newspaper.

The firefighters in question reportedly were selected, in part, based on their willingness to receive the vaccine publicly.

“The First Five are sending a strong message about the importance of this vaccine,” D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserTwo shot outside of popular restaurants in DC, police still searching for suspects The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics DC mayor, Nationals issue joint statement against gun violence MORE (D) said in a statement, according to the Post. “Our frontline health care workers and emergency responders have led our community through this pandemic with courage and compassion, and now we are proud to deliver this vaccine to them.”

Building confidence in the vaccine is a particular priority among public health officials for the Black community. Distrust of the medical establishment has lingered among many Black Americans due to historical incidents such as the Tuskegee study in which Black men were unknowingly denied treatment for syphilis.

The District is set to receive 6,825 of the first doses being shipped across the country Monday after the vaccine was approved over the weekend. The city has prioritized 85,000 first responders and health care workers to be the first people vaccinated.