First responders, others get initial COVID vaccine doses

The COVID vaccine rollout has reached first responders in Sweet Home.

So far, 24 first responders in Sweet Home have received the Moderna vaccine, though more are scheduled to get it in the weeks to come.

Police Chief Jeff Lynn said those six officers were lucky –they were able to get some doses that had been allocated for the fire department after only 18 signed up for vaccination on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Other police officers and dispatchers will get their chance next week, he added.

A few lucky bystanders got the extra doses. The Moderna vaccine comes in vials of 10 to 11 doses, and all of it needs to be used up within a short time period after the vial is opened. So once the first responders were vaccinated, several bystanders and family members were summoned to get the vaccine as well – including this reporter.

After each first responder got their dose, seven doses remained for the taking, and those in the building began calling friends, coworkers and family to come get one before it expired.

Fire Chief Dave Barringer said only “35% of the fire department” took the opportunity to get the vaccine this time.

Fire District Battalion Chief Shannon Pettinger administered most of the vaccines, though Barringer gave Pettinger her own shot.

She laughed and screwed up her eyes as he administered it, and joked that others were lucky she was giving out the rest of the shots.

Linn County Health Services Spokeswoman Michelle Duncan said the county has been allocated 100 doses per week by the state, and has therefore focused efforts on first responders like fire, EMS, and law enforcement.

“Samaritan Health Services has been an excellent partner in the vaccination process and has received separate allocations, due to prioritization of staff and vaccine storage capacity,” she added.

Samaritan has so far received 7,200 vaccines with another 2,000 for second doses, according to spokeswoman Erin Causey. She said first responders and residents at Wiley Creek Community are being vaccinated by the county, while Samaritan staff have received their vaccines at the hospitals.