Garland Hosts Vaccine Drive for Health Care Workers

The event is open primarily for health care-related employees like firefighters, paramedics and school nurses from Garland, Rowlett and Sachse

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The COVID-19 vaccine is continuing to make its way to those who need it most in North Texas.

The latest phase allows for frontline workers like first responders to get the vaccine.

On Tuesday morning, the city of Garland hosted a massive vaccination drive at the Garland Fire Department Training facility. This comes after the Garland Health Department was able to receive 900 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

"I would like to think that the knowledge that they've been vaccinated, it should help them psychologically knowing that they've got a degree of immunity from this disease that we've all been dealing with for 10 months now," said Jason Chessher, managing director for Garland Health Department. "Vaccines break pandemics."

So far, around 155 people have been vaccinated in the event, which is open primarily for firefighters, paramedics and school nurses from Garland, Rowlett and Sachse because they all share the same health authority. Also included are detention center workers and jailers for Garland and Rowlett.

"I'm very grateful to get the vaccination. I've been counting down the days until this day. So I did my paperwork as fast as I could, got here as fast as I could and I'm very grateful," said Ken Craft, a captain for Garland Fire Department. “I feel like this is truly key to ending this. This is key to putting this in the past."

There is another vaccine drive for those workers planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

This is just the first dose, which gives partial immunity. The second one planned for later in January is intended as a booster.

“We’ve been planning this for six months. We knew at some point the vaccine would be available, we just didn’t know when," said Chessher. "We wanted to make sure we were ready. And I believe that we are, this is the first large vaccination event that we’ve done.”

Those who got the vaccine said it's giving them a new level of comfort in doing their jobs right now.

"I'm looking forward to the future. Looking forward to getting back to some semblance of normal," said Barbara Schmitz, a school nurse for Garland ISD.

Garland paramedics told NBC 5 some crews have been responding to eight or nine COVID-19 calls per day.

“When this all first hit us back in March, it was all new and very scary. And it was deeply stressful. Everybody, top to bottom, was learning how to cope with this and how to respond to it," recalled Craft. "Now many months later, we do have a greater comfort level with 911 calls, we know how to put on PPE, we know about distancing and trying to reduce our numbers of exposure.

“It’s like rookies school, where we learned how to fight fires. Now we know how to make COVID calls," he added.

The Garland Health Department said it can take 10 days to two weeks for the vaccine to take effect. Therefore, they are stressing the importance for people to continue wearing masks and social distancing.

"I probably won’t relax that much either. Mask wearing, social distancing, washing our hands. We need to get a whole bunch of people vaccinated, I think, before we can really relax," said Schmitz.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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