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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Why are firefighters and first-responders skipping the COVID-19 vaccine?

Individuals within Shelby County's first vaccine eligibility group are opting out of the new vaccine despite rising coronavirus cases.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — “I certainly hope that we can get our logistics working better,” said Dr. Joe Holley. 

He's the director of the Memphis and Shelby County Fire Department.

The Coronavirus vaccine is rolling out in Shelby County and thousands of first responders have received their first doses.

But health officials and researchers say we are behind where we should be. 

In fact, some individuals within Shelby County’s priority group are saying no to the vaccine. 

Like many other emergency medical service workers, the Memphis Fire Department received information about the COVID vaccine back in December before vaccine distribution.  

A source working for MFD tells Local 24 News that several firefighters and EMS workers have refused the shot altogether.

The reason? 

Fear of the unknown. 

“That was part of the reason for putting together that bit of information,” said Dr. Holley.

He sent out the fact sheet back in December. 

“It’s certainly understandable that not only folks in ems emergency services community, but in the public in general, have some concerns about a brand new medicine,” he said. 

While many may be apprehensive to the new preventative shot, he says hundreds of EMS workers in Shelby County have contracted this virus during the pandemic.

He said, “it’s certainly been impactful to operational readiness in some ways just having to shuffle people around.” 

Dr. Holley says he hopes more EMS workers and firefighters who are medically able to take the shot will do so to mitigate the spread.