PITTSFIELD — The effort to vaccinate first responders moved forward on Tuesday, when almost 300 police, fire and emergency medical services officials were signed up to receive their first dose at the Berkshire Community College field house, a city health leader said.
“We’re really at the beginning, the beginning of the end, to get everybody vaccinated and back to normal,” said Pittsfield Fire Chief Tom Sammons.
Sammons spoke a few minutes before he was scheduled to get his first shot of the vaccine. Public Health Director Gina Armstrong said he was among about 270 first responders scheduled to be vaccinated at the site on Tuesday.
As of Monday afternoon, the county had not yet received enough doses for all willing first responders, but Laura Kittross, director of the Berkshire County Boards of Health Association, said Tuesday the remaining doses are expected to arrive on Wednesday.
Kittross said no one who received a vaccine at the first responder clinic at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center in North Adams on Monday — during what was the first major vaccination clinic outside of nursing homes and hospitals in the county — experienced any side effects.
She noted that the vaccine is safe, and can be associated with minor muscle aches and soreness, as well as the occasional headache that a dose of Tylenol can take care of.
Sammons said a few members of the Pittsfield Fire Department have decided against getting vaccinated. However, he and Kittross said they noticed some former holdouts have reversed and decided to get vaccinated after all as they see more and more people receiving the vaccine without issue.
“People are seeing their friends and family who are health care workers or first responders get it, and more and more they’re saying, ‘OK, sign me up too,’ ” Kittross said.
The first responder vaccination sites are not open to the general public.
But the doors were open to Richmond firefighter Tom Allen, who after receiving the vaccine said getting inoculated is an important step to helping the region beat back the coronavirus.
“I wanted to do my part,” he said.