Colorado State Fire Chiefs unhappy with first responder placement on COVID vaccination plan – FOX 31 Denver

DENVER (KDVR) — In the coming weeks, thousands of Coloradans will get access to COVID-19 vaccines. Wednesday, state health officials released a 3-phase plan, prioritizing high-exposure health care employees. 

“We felt like there was a miss there,” says Don Lombardi. “They didn’t do as much homework as they should have.”

Lombardi is the fire chief for West Metro Fire Rescue, and a member of the Colorado State Fire Chiefs association, which sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis criticizing the plan. 

Under the plan released Wednesday, first responders, including EMS, police and firefighters, will be in the 1B category, below hospital workers and long-term care facility staff and residents.

“It’s not so much that we want to be put ahead of other health care professionals, but just to be in the same tier as them,” says Lombardi.

Colorado’s vaccine distribution plan. Credit: CDPHE

Lombardi argues most COVID patients have contact with first responders long before they ever get to the hospital. 

“We’re going into situations that are not quite controlled as they are in the hospital,” he says. “We’re just asking that we be put in the same tier as these critical health care professionals, and be moved from 1B to 1A.”

While the difference between 1A and 1B might seem trivial, numbers provided by state health officials show those two categories could be separated by weeks, if not months.

Both are categorized as “winter,” but with minimal access to vaccines, Lombardi worries it could be months before their turn is up. 

“We’re not trying to supplant anyone else and what their needs are,” he says. “We just know what our needs are to be effectively responding to these types of calls and other types of calls. We feel that we should be at that same level.”