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‘For us as firemen, we have to be able to breathe’: HFD receives 3,000 doses of Moderna vaccine

HOUSTON – Houston firefighters have received 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine Monday. Leaders with the department hope that the vaccinations will be rolled out as soon as next week.

In late December, Houston firefighters have been working with hospitals like Houston Methodist and St. Luke’s to receive the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine. Now, firefighters will have other options as the department works to roll out the 3,000 Moderna vaccines received on Monday.

Many firefighters like Sr. Captain Joshua Vogel have been working long hours.

“I love my job. I appreciate all of the wonderful citizens who give us the opportunity to serve them ... and I would like to do this for another 20 more years,” Vogel said.

Despite the risks, firefighters answer the call.

“Currently we have 192 firefighters that are in quarantine for coronavirus,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said. “We’ve had 465 firefighters test positive for Coronavirus, and sadly we’ve had 3 fatalities, and just today we were informed that we have another firefighter in the emergency room.”

Chief Pena hopes to give the entire department the option to be vaccinated by the end of January.

“It affects the respiratory system, so for us as firemen, we have to be able to breathe. So this has been a really tough time for us,” Vogel said.

Volunteering to lead the effort to have firefighters vaccinated is HFD Capt. David Riegor.

“We’re talking into people’s homes every day, and it’s important for us to be good examples,” Riegor said.”My wife is in healthcare too and having both of us vaccinated and having a little bit of relief ... allows you to come home with a lighter heart and an easier mind. You’re not as worried about grabbing your children, leaving your clothes outside ... It’s become a tedious process in 2020.”

He says the new vaccines received will be rolled out as soon as next week. The priority will be those with direct contact with people in the field and then support teams.

“More than 60% of Houston Firefighters showed an interest in getting this., and we’ve had an amazing response. I’ve been answering a lot of calls,” Riegor said.

Vogel is getting the vaccine soon, and he said he cannot wait. His wife is also a healthcare hero.

“Been looking forward to it for a while now,” Vogel said.