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The Thornton Fire Department is doing more than its fair share in the fight against COVID-19. As of June 2, the department has administered over 82,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine via clinics …
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The Thornton Fire Department is doing more than its fair share in the fight against COVID-19.
As of June 2, the department has administered over 82,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine via clinics it’s been operating for five months. The department knew it would be successful when it started, but it didn’t foresee the level of impact it would have.
“We knew the impact that it would make, but I don’t think we knew we would hit that 82,000 mark,” said Sabrina Iacovetta, community safety and information officer for the department.
The department began in late December, almost immediately after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer vaccine emergency authorization. To Iacovetta’s knowledge, there were no other Denver metro fire departments that had a mass similar vaccination plan. At that point, the department was used to large-scale operations because it was providing mass COVID-19 testing.
When only essential personnel and frontline medical professionals were initially eligible for the vaccine, the department administered doses at Fire Station 1. All firefighters with the department were able to administer the vaccines because they had a basic EMT certification, though only certain department staff regularly manned the clinics. Later, the department would hire outside individuals to help administer doses.
When vaccinations opened to the public for people who are 70 and older, the department started to run its mass vaccination site at the Carpenter Recreation Center. Most vaccinations happened there from then on, but the department also operated mobile clinics and hosted Saturday clinics at the Adams 12 Five Star Schools building.
Once the department had vaccinated all Adams 12 staff who signed up, the clinic at the Adams 12 building also opened to the public.
What surprised Iacovetta the most was where people traveled from. People drove three to four hours to Thornton to receive their vaccine and others flew in from other states. Several people commented on “how efficient our site was,” Iacovetta said.
Following the department’s success, the Congressional Fire Service Institute – a Virginia-based nonprofit that advocates for fire safety-related issues in Congress – awarded Thornton Fire its “Fire Service-Based EMS Award” in late April. It was one of four national awards the CFSI gives out annually. The department received the award for testing and vaccinating community members and implementing a COVID-symptomatic firefighters program.
The department has shut down the recreation center clinic, due to the demand for vaccinations. Mobile sites are still operating, however.
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