Orange County Paramedics Tapped to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine

December 29, 2020 Updated: December 30, 2020

Some fire department paramedics in Orange County, California, are being trained to administer COVID-19 vaccinations, in a move officials hope will help alleviate the workload of hospital nurses and doctors.

“Because hospital staffing is overworked, they don’t have the [manpower] to inoculate people,” Supervisor Doug Chaffee told The Epoch Times.

“We are getting paramedics trained, and they will serve around the county to help with the vaccination efforts.”

Chaffee, who is on the Orange County Board of Supervisor’s ad hoc testing and vaccination subcommittee, said Dec. 29 he expected paramedics’ vaccine training to be completed within the next few weeks.

“They’re adding that to their tool kit,” he said. “The vaccine is not like just doing a bunch of flu shots. It’s one of the more difficult ones to do, because you’ve got to be certain there are no side effects.”

Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) personnel are among those who’ve been trained to administer the vaccine, but aren’t immediately planning to put those skills to work at local hospitals, said an OCFA spokesman.

“That is not currently happening, nor is it planned to happen in the very near future,” Cpt. Greg Barta told The Epoch Times.

“Our personnel have been trained to administer the vaccine, [but] at this time, it is for internal use only. We have had discussions with our local law enforcement agencies to potentially administer the vaccine to them when it is deemed appropriate for them to start receiving it, but we have not had any discussions about administering it in our hospitals or anywhere else.”

Orange County received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine Dec. 16 and inoculated some St. Joseph Hospital workers the same day. About 3,900 vials of the Moderna vaccine arrived at the hospital about a week later.

Some fire department employees were on the receiving end of the needle Dec. 26, when about 100 OCFA firefighters were vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine.

Chaffee said he’s hoping to have enough people vaccinated by July to reach herd immunity.

“That depends on a number of things,” he said. “Getting enough of the vaccine, itself, is somewhat of an issue. That’s a major effort that we’re undertaking now is getting the vaccination out. … We cannot stop with the vaccination efforts.”

Follow Michelle on Twitter: @EpochMichelle