EMS personnel respond to state’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan


ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – EMS personnel are considered to be one of the first vaccine recipients to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it comes to New York. However, there’s a limited amount of vaccine doses.

In the first round of COVID-19 vaccine doses, New York State will receive 170,000 doses. However, not everyone who falls under Phase One of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan will be able to get the vaccine immediately. This is because there’s more people than vaccines.

Robert McHugh, Medical Director of the Rotterdam EMS says as of right now, there’s no guidance from the state as to when EMS personnel will get vaccinated, even though these essential workers are listed in Phase One of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan.

Other essential workers like ICU, emergency department healthcare staff, long-term care facility workers who interact with residents and most at-risk long-term care facility patients are higher in line to get vaccinated.

“The Governor obviously has a tough job. There’s only so many vaccinations. We’re the frontline of the front line,” says Tom Coyle, Chairman of United New York Ambulance Network. Coyle tells NEWS10 he’s happy to see EMS personnel to be one of a number of essential workers to be able to get vaccinated quicker.

“We would like to thank Governor Cuomo for ensuring that our EMS colleagues across New York will have immediate access to the COVID-19 vaccine once it is made available. Our members operate on the frontline of healthcare, routinely traveling between uncontrolled environments and face constant risks of exposure to the novel coronavirus. They require all tools available to provide acceptable protections both to themselves and to the patients and individuals they come in contact with. With personal protective equipment becoming harder to come by, having the ability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine immediately among other Phase 1 recipients will help EMS personnel continue to provide the highest standards of care. We support the Governor’s decision to help keep all of our EMS colleagues safe during these challenging times.”

Tom Coyle, Chairman of UNYAN and President/CEO of Monroe Ambulance in Rochester

Dean Romano is the director of Rotterdam EMS. Everyday he is trying to order personal protective equipment for his EMT workers. Before responding and heading out to emergency calls involving individuals displaying COVID-19 symptoms, EMT workers need to be wearing the proper PPE and he says that is costly. He says his job has always has been challenging, yet rewarding. “I can appreciate that [the governor] has definitely given us priority on this situation. I am just thinking, maybe [he] didn’t realize where in the priority we should be,” says Romano.

On Thursday, Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara wrote a letter to the governor’s office, urgently asking to reconsider moving EMS personnel higher up on the list of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan. Santabarbara spoke with a number of local EMT workers who cover rural communities in the Capital Region. He believes it’s crucial for these EMS personnel to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We understand there’s a lot of tough decisions that have to be made. I think this something that deserves attention from the governor’s office and department of health. They still have time to make adjustments, they still have time to make these corrections, to go back and re exam,” says Assemblymember Santabarbara.

The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to come to New York early next week.

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