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First responders are being vaccinated

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel in Prince Edward County who have elected to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have received their first shot, while law enforcement, firefighters and some school teachers within the county were in the process of receiving the vaccination as of Friday, Jan. 22.

Administering the vaccine to the personnel have been Centra Health Inc. and the respective county health departments.

“All of our members that are interested in being vaccinated have received at least their first dose,” Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad (PEVRS) Executive Director Deanna Jones said Thursday, Jan. 21, noting Centra Southside Community Hospital handled administration of the shots. “And we were the first group that they got on the books.”

She noted a large majority of PEVRS members received the vaccine.

“Centra was very organized with it, and as soon as our first responders were reaching out for appointments, they were getting them in,” she said. “So the hard part’s over with for us.”

Of course, a second dose of the vaccine will be forthcoming for PEVRS members, but Jones affirmed she is feeling a little more at ease already.

“I think this is our light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “It’s definitely giving us some hope.”

Meherrin Volunteer Fire and Rescue EMS Capt. Sally Pyle had a similar report for her department Thursday.

“Our members who were interested in getting the vaccine have received it through Centra Health,” she said.

L.W. Gilliam, fire operations chief for Hampden-Sydney Volunteer Fire and Rescue, said the vaccine is available for first responders in the department who wish to take it.

“Several have taken it,” he said Thursday.

Centra Health administered the doses.

Prince Edward County Sheriff L.A. “Tony” Epps said vaccination of his personnel is coming along as well.

“We are close to being finished with employees that wish to receive the vaccine,” he said Friday.

Farmville Police Chief Andy Ellington said vaccination of members of his department started Friday, administered by the Virginia Department of Health.

“Centra did call me yesterday and offered to assist,” he said Friday.

He noted the process of vaccinating police officers will continue for several days.

Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley summarized Friday the progress thus far in vaccine administration to key groups throughout the county.

“The medics had it up front in the first grouping, and just in this last week here, the firefighters and the police officers have been able to move (forward),” he said. “We’ve been able to work with (the) local health office here for some of our deputies here in the courthouse to get them vaccinated.

“Ultimately it’s a personal choice whether somebody wants to go through and get vaccinated,” he continued. “I have not been vaccinated yet, but I encourage staff to take the opportunity if we can get them vaccinated. Certainly, from an employer perspective, reducing risk and exposure risk for them is important to me, and also continuity of government, making sure that we have people to answer the call when the 911 call goes out — that’s of utmost importance. It’s one of the most important things that we do.”

Paul “Chance” Reynolds, head of school at Fuqua School, confirmed Sunday morning, Jan. 24, that Fuqua’s teachers have begun to receive the vaccine.

“On Friday morning, Coach Mike Edwards became our first faculty and staff member to receive the vaccine, and with each passing day, our faculty and staff continue to receive phone calls from the Prince Edward County Health Department letting us know when their appointed time might be,” Reynolds said.

The county health department is administering the shots, he said, and about 50% of Fuqua’s faculty and staff have elected to receive the vaccine as of Sunday.

“At this point in time, we are not sure how long it will take to vaccinate all of our faculty and staff who have elected to receive the vaccine, but we are very grateful the process has begun and (are) so appreciative of the men and women of the Prince Edward County Health Department and the Piedmont (Health District) for all of their hard work and dedication,” Reynolds said.

Friday evening, Buckingham County Public Schools (BCPS) Superintendent Dr. Daisy Hicks said BCPS has submitted a list to Piedmont Health District of the employees who want the vaccine.

“We have not received dates that the vaccine will be administered,” she said. “I know they are according with Buckingham County Health Department.”

Sunday morning, Cumberland County Public Schools (CuCPS) Superintendent Dr. Chip Jones said CuCPS has 132 staff members who opted to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

“We are working with the Piedmont Health District to establish a timeline regarding when the vaccinations will be administered and the locations,” he said. “I would hope that we could begin with the vaccinations within the next couple of weeks. I know everyone is eager to begin.”