COVID-19 vaccine brings relief to Des Moines Fire Department’s EMS providers

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With the help of UnityPoint Health-Des Moines Occupational Medicine, Des Moines’ contracted occupational medicine provider and Polk County Health Department’s designee to provide COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine to the City’s first responders, the Des Moines Fire Department has been given the opportunity to get its COVID-19 vaccinations.

“This is an important step to protect our employees, but it goes so much further” said Des Moines Fire Department Chief John TeKippe. “These vaccinations are critical so that we can maintain the capacity of our EMS system so we can take care of any patients that need our care.”

Receiving the vaccine was an important moment for Des Moines EMS providers who have worked on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly nine months now.

“I’m still going to do my part, be careful, keep my social distance and wear a mask,” said paramedic Michael Fonza. “It brings a peace of mind when I’m going home to my family and to the grocery store that I’m not being a part of the problem, I’m being a part of the solution.”

Although employees are not required to receive the vaccine, Chief TeKippe says that they are seeing higher numbers than they usually see sign up for the flu vaccine.

“Usually we see two-thirds to three-quarters with the flu vaccine, but we’ve seen a higher response so far,” TeKippe said. “I think there’s a sense of relief that we’ve reached this point after so long. It represents the next step and recharges our batteries to see us finally get here.”