GREENFIELD, Wis. — A lot of Milwaukee County front line workers are still waiting for their COVID-19 vaccines. Now, a local fire chief is expressing his frustration over the delay.
“In Milwaukee County at this moment, I don't know of any firefighter or EMS provider that has been vaccinated,” said Chief Jon Cohn of the Greenfield Fire Department.
Cohn also heads up the Milwaukee County Association of Fire Chiefs. He says firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) workers are considered part of the 1A distribution group. It should mean they are among the first to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Cohn sent out a tweet Tuesday morning that read in part:
“…a hospital system administered 17,000 #CovidVaccine doses to their staff. Our number? #zero #zip #zilch #none”
“The challenge with our medical system is that we are not affiliated with a hospital, so we are a stand alone emergency medical service provider,” said Cohn.
The director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management Dr. Ben Weston says they are trying to get the vaccines to paramedics and EMS workers. But the state’s COVID vaccination plan has their immunizations coming from a specific source, which they are still waiting on.
“These EMS providers are in the 1A phase of vaccinations. We are working hard to get the vaccines as soon as possible. The health department is the main avenue for them to receive vaccines,” said Weston.
Cohn also questions why so few vaccines have been given out.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the state has received 156,875 COVID vaccines, but only 47,157 or 30-percent have been administered.
“We're not asking, you know, to go to the front of the line. I think we're just asking for is for our members to be protected in a timely manner,” said Cohn.
DHS says they do consider EMS workers a priority group for COVID vaccines. The state is coordinating with local and tribal health departments that have the capacity to vaccinate these groups. DHS believes EMS workers should start receiving vaccines the week of January 11th.