Birmingham first responders explain importance of COVID-19 vaccine

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The state of Alabama started vaccinating people over the age of 75 and first responders in recent weeks. So far, 223,887 people have gotten the vaccine while more than 500,00 doses have been delivered.

Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith says he didn’t have an exact number, but officers are getting the shot. He recently got his first shot of the Moderna vaccine. With the vaccine available to first responders, Chief Smith believes it will help them keep themselves and the public safe.

“We have to take care of ourselves,” Smith said.

COVID-19 has impacted police agencies and emergency services across the nation.

“And we’re definitely in the line of fire in terms of COVID,” Smith said.

Chief Smith says they have had staffing issues because of officers out with COVID-19.

“We are going in and out of a number of where officers may be exposed in some way,” Smith said.

Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Jim Coker says first responders have taken plenty of precautions during the pandemic in order to protect themselves.

“We’re on the front lines. And they need to be protected so they can help other people,” Coker said.

Coker says having first responders vaccinated will help keep agencies staffed.

“We look at the public, and we think about their lives. Because we’ve seen this COVID pandemic take lives,” Coker said.

With Alabama reporting thousands of cases daily, first responders hope the public can get vaccinated soon.

Chief Smith tells CBS 42 more than 40 officers are out due to COVID-19 related reasons. He says he isn’t requiring officers to get the vaccine but is strongly encouraging them.

“So, that’s why I would encourage them to take that next step and go ahead and get the vaccine,” Smith said.


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