Kent Co. emergency workers begin receiving COVID vaccines

Kent County Emergency Medical Service Capt. John Tinger gives Kent County Levy Court Vice President Terry Pepper a COVID-19 vaccination in Dover on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Some Kent County first responders were feeling a bit better on the inside after receiving COVID-19 vaccines Wednesday morning.

For paramedic Sgt. Megan Moerman, getting a shot meant some movement toward at least a semblance of prepandemic normalcy.

“It feels good that they’re finally making progress toward an end to this horrible pandemic that’s been going on,” she said. “I’m excited to feel a little more protected, to see my family and also provide more support to protect the people in the community.”

Kent County Director of Public Safety Chief Colin Faulkner received the first of two required doses, as well, and expects that the county’s 45 paramedics will follow suit in the next couple weeks with Pfizer or Moderna products. The county’s dispatchers and other critical personnel will be next in line.

“It’s a good vaccine, it works, and we’re looking forward to everyone taking advantage of the vaccine,” Chief Faulkner said.

For months now, the strain on Emergency Medical Service staff has continued during work and at home when the shift ends, as members are unsure whether the day brought exposure to the coronavirus, Sgt. Moerman said.

“You have no idea who you come in contact with, who you’ve been (in) contact with and (if) are you passing it along,” she said. “I don’t want to be that person.”

Administering the shots — which recipients agreed were painless — was EMS Capt. John Tinger, who was proud to be able to “protect the front line workers. That’s the most important thing.”

“Everyone has been out there for the last eight to nine months, and every day, they’re worried about what they’re bringing home to their family, so this level of protection is really what we’ve been waiting for for a long time.”

The emotional impact of the vaccine’s arrival is like “taking the pressure valve off a pot of steaming water,” Chief Faulkner said.

“You have all this activity going on that’s not normal, it’s atypical, and having the vaccine available to all our first responders, it’s like popping that pressure valve, and you can come out and breathe.”

Also, Chief Faulkner said: “The paramedics do an outstanding job in the community. They know what they need to do to stay safe. They know what to do to keep the patient safe.

“The hidden part … that the public doesn’t see is that fatigue that accompanies this, and they don’t show it and hide it very well, but there is a fatigue in having to don all this equipment every single day when you come on duty.”

Capt. Tinger administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Kent County Director of Public Safety Chief Colin Faulkner on Wednesday. Chief Faulkner says the rest of the county’s paramedics will have access to a vaccine in the next few weeks. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

While it’s not required that EMS personnel get vaccinated, “the good news is they’re taking it,” Chief Faulkner said. “We’re proud of our staff for stepping up and not only protecting themselves but protecting their families, protecting the patients.

“It’s going to help us serve the public even better, which is what we’re all about.”

Receiving the first shot at the 911 Center on Wednesday, Levy Court Vice President and Public Safety Committee Chair Terry Pepper described the vaccine as receiving “a new lease on life,” while pushing for all county employees and Kent Countians to get inoculated as soon as possible.

There was no pain in receiving the shot, Commissioner Pepper and Chief Faulkner agreed. Chief Faulkner said he didn’t flinch or feel anything when injected, and Commissioner Pepper asked, “It that it?” immediately after his vaccination.

Chief Faulkner took an expanded view for nationwide impact, as well, saying: “This is a good first step. This will allow people to breathe, allow the country to open up and businesses to get back to normal and not just take the pressure off us and the first responders but to pop the pressure off the entire United States.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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