Members of the Marshall Area Emergency Medical Services are beginning to add an extra layer of protection against coronavirus in the form of the vaccine. At the end of December, Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) announced it would begin providing COVID-19 vaccines to people who provide direct patient services and are not affiliated with a healthcare system or hospital.

“We’ve reached an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19, and we’re excited to help provide this important vaccine to some of the frontline workers who play crucial role in keeping our community healthy,” said Tess Ellens, Public Health Nurse with PHMDC in a release.

Marshall EMS director Scott Allain knows several of the EMTs have received the first dose of the vaccine.

“It’s another added layer of protection for the staff members that wish to get the vaccine,” he said. “It could be considered another piece of PPE (personal protective equipment) to help us do our job.”

EMTs are randomly selected to have a vaccine scheduled; Allain supplied a list of names and emails of the Marshall EMS personnel to PHMDC, which then alerts the individuals with instructions on how they can schedule an appointment to get vaccinated.

“I’m assuming everybody who wants to get a vaccine has been able to get a vaccine, so that’s good,” Allain said.

The Alliant Energy Center, already being utilized as a COVID-19 test site, is also serving as a vaccination distribution location. PHMDC is vaccinating EMS personnel with the Pfizer vaccine.

Allain said even though EMTs may be vaccinated, all members will continue to wear PPE and follow protective measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since late March, the Marshall EMTs have donned gloves, facemasks, and eye protection, and have supplied the same to patients being treated.

“Even if you get vaccinated, you could still get COVID but hopefully not as significant or as serious as if you didn’t have the vaccination,” the EMS director said.

Allain added that overall, since COVID-19 has impacted EMS services, things have gone well but the change has its challenges.

“It’s a lot more difficult to work in the PPE and our amount of in-person training has declined so we’ve had to adapt to a new technology in terms of a general membership meeting and general training,” he said. “But I will say public service is a really adaptable group – it’s kind of our job. We get called to a variety of situations and we always adapt and overcome obstacles. It’s nothing new to us.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 vaccine data, preliminary data shows that 123,402 vaccines of the 266,675 doses shipped to the state have been administered as of Jan. 8. PHMDC in its Jan. 7 weekly coronavirus snapshot has reported nearly 14,000 vaccine doses have been administered to Dane County residents.

PHMDC reminds people the coronavirus vaccine is not likely to be offered to the public until at least spring.

“Until a vaccine is distributed to the general public (and even for some time after), we must remain vigilant. Please wear your mask, limit indoor gatherings, practice social distancing, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and stay home when you’re sick,” the department said in a release.

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