Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced on Friday that Florida firefighters could be used to assist with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
In a press release, the Patronis, who also serves as the State Fire Marshal, said he held a call with the Florida Fire Chiefs Association and Florida Professional Firefighters, members of the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office and fire service leaders to assess the needs of the fire service community and offer support during the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Florida’s fire service community continues to be instrumental in the fight against COVID-19. On the call today, we discussed progress on vaccine distribution to first responders as well as how firefighters can be an incredible asset in the war against the Coronavirus. With the vast majority of firefighters serving as paramedics and EMTs, local county health units have an incredible workforce that’s ready to step up and get these vaccines distributed in our communities,” Patronis said. “In different parts of the state, firefighters have been utilized to the benefit of the community, so we want to do our part in getting the word out. For example, the deployment of vaccines is being handled by the local fire services within St. Johns’ County.
“It’s also critical we get our first responders vaccinated, and so as vaccines become available, we’re working to ensure they’re prioritized. Since March 2020, hundreds of Florida’s firefighters have been infected, which has at times impacted the workforce. It’s important our heroes protect themselves and get vaccinated when the opportunity presents itself,” he added.
Florida was among the first states to release the drugs to nursing home patients and continues to prioritize seniors, long-term care residents, and frontline health care workers. According to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health (DOH), 443,616 Floridians have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of those receiving the initial dose, 187,514 are over the age of 65. In total, 24,200 Floridians have been declared fully immunized.
Today’s announcement comes as Patronis continues to work on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight. Aside from today’s press release, Patronis continues to advocate for COVID-19 liability protections for businesses across the state and has requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide utility workers with access to the COVID-19 vaccine before the 2021 hurricane season.