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OGDEN – Firefighters in Ogden started getting the COVID-19 vaccine as local health departments in the area roll out the shots to more health care workers.
The Deputy Fire Chief Mike Slater called the vaccines a relief to firefighters.
First responders face the disease head-on and firefighters in Ogden deal with roughly 15 to 20 COVID-19 positive patients during a 24-hour shift.
About 80% of Ogden firefighters, EMTs and paramedics either already are, or will be vaccinated by the end of this week.
They may not yet have immunity but, many of them will turn around and help with a larger distribution, getting the vaccine to roughly a couple-thousand non-hospital medical workers in the area, starting Tuesday.
Slater is among those who just got vaccinated. He said the shots will alleviate fatigue from wearing masks and personal protection equipment during most of a shift.
"We call it COVID fatigue and it's a real thing, not just physical fatigue but mental fatigue," Slater said. "We have to train differently. We have to respond differently to keep ourselves protected and keep you protected."
For example, the equipment makes it even more challenging to extricate an injured patient, who may be contagious with COVID-19 from a crash. Officials said it's a common occurrence.
The firefighter immunization program is voluntary, but the vast majority of the department is getting the immunization.
Slater said Ogden had more than 20,000 911 calls in 2020.