Jacksonville firefighters begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine

JFRD employees will start vaccinating the public next month

JFRD employee gets COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday afternoon. (JFRD image)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – About 25 Jacksonville Fire and Rescue employees, including Chief Keith Powers, received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday afternoon. The remaining 1,600 JFRD employees will begin getting the vaccine next week -- a process that’s expected to last several days.

“I wasn’t concerned about it at all,” Powers said. “To tell you how bad it bothered me, well, I went home yesterday afternoon and split a load of firewood.”

JFRD employees will start vaccinating the public next month.

Most JFRD employees will get vaccinated at a special clinic to be set up at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, starting Monday.

The city said it is important that JFRD employees get vaccinated early because about 900 paramedics will be used to administer the shots to the public as early as next month. Powers said his department is working hand-in-hand with the Duval County Health Department.

“We signed an agreement with them to help and it’s going to be in what we call pods,” Powers said. “Where those pods are going to be set up is strictly up to the Health Department. We will go wherever we are needed. The men and women are going to step up and get this community to immunize.”

The chief said he got vaccinated to set an example for the department. His employees are not required to get the shot, but he sent a note to the staff letting them know that 282 firefighters have tested positive so far, currently 30 have the virus and 74 are in quarantine.

“I tell the leadership team here and the chiefs that ride in the field: our No. 1 job is to send these men and women home to their families safe every day. And this is just another way we can do that,” Powers said of the vaccine.

Firefighters were sent a letter by Mayor Lenny Curry letting them know what potential signs to watch out for after receiving the vaccine, including pain and swelling near the site of the injection, possible headaches chills, nausea or fever.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction include difficulty breathing swelling of the face and throat increased heart rate a bad rash and dizziness.

The letter says employees should not get the vaccination if to any ingredient in the vaccine.

Jacksonville firefighters will get their second dose in less than a month.

Clay County told News4Jax its firefighters will also be involved in giving shots to the public but they have not received any vaccine. We did not get replies from St. Johns and Nassau County, but Thursday was a state holiday.

Statewide more than 68,000 people have received either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccine as of Wednesday. Vaccinations began Dec. 14 with hospital workers, then expanded to residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.