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Charlotte-area paramedics trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines to help meet demand

Union EMS said their crews are currently stationed at the county health department, but it’s possible they could respond to homes in the future.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — First responders are stepping up to help with COVID-19 vaccinations, as health officials are inundated with demand.

WCNC Charlotte has learned some ambulance agencies are training staff to administer the vaccine, including MEDIC and Union EMS.

Union EMS said their crews are currently stationed at the county health department, but it’s possible they could respond to homes in the future.

Across the Charlotte-area, first responders are not only getting the vaccine, but some crews are also learning to give it.

“I received mine yesterday. It’s quick. It’s painless,” said Union EMS Chief Bryan Edwards.

Chief Edwards said five of his paramedics have been trained to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s meant to help local health officials and other providers meet the demand.

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“They’re being inundated, so we have some paramedics who are in a position where they can offer up their assistance,” said Chief Edwards.

Chief Edwards said right now, their crew is stationed at the Union County Health Department focusing on vaccinating frontline workers.

“Healthcare, first responders, medics, fire,” said Chief Edwards.

However, he said with the mobility of an ambulance agency, they could potentially respond to people’s homes in the future to give the vaccine.

“We may get to a point where we have our community paramedicine division go into the homes of those who can’t travel to the centers and then start the vaccinations that way,” said Chief Edwards.

In Mecklenburg County, MEDIC said they’ve trained 10 paramedics and EMT’s to administer the vaccines. In addition, more than 100 of their EMS staff received the vaccine for themselves, a spokesman said.   

On Tuesday, Huntersville Fire tweeted five of their members have gotten the injection.  Union EMS said about 20-25% of their emergency crews have received the vaccine.

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In South Carolina, some EMS staff at Piedmont Medical Center have been vaccinated, including Director Eric Morrison.

“I’m especially appreciative that myself and my team have been included in this first round of vaccinations,” said Morrison.

“We’ve got to get life back to what we were used to,” said Chief Edwards.

Gaston EMS said, so far, they have administered about 210 COVID vaccinations. Officials said they are currently training paramedics to help with the mass vaccination process in support of Gaston County DHHS Public Health. 

MEDIC released the following statement to WCNC Charlotte: 

Mecklenburg County Public Health has requested, through Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management, support of local first responder agencies, paramedics and EMTs, to assist with administering COVID-19 vaccinations. This includes Mecklenburg EMS Agency, the State Medical Assistance Team (SMAT), a specialized unit within the Charlotte Fire Department, and other Mecklenburg County fire departments. Mecklenburg County Public Health is currently training these first responders in preparation for future distribution efforts. This partnership further expands our capacity to distribute the vaccine to those in our community, who are eligible, as quickly as possible. At this time, there are no plans to conduct home visits for vaccine distribution. Details on vaccination clinics for the public will be released when that information is available.  All of these efforts are part of a coordinated response from agencies across Mecklenburg County to combat COVID-19 in a unified manner to protect our citizens.” -Mecklenburg County Public Health, Mecklenburg EMS Agency, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office, Charlotte Fire Department