EMS Workers Set to Get Their First Coronavirus Vaccine Doses in Arlington

The City of Arlington expects that the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine allocation from the Texas Department of State Health Services will arrive soon. Working in conjunction with Tarrant County Public Health and following the state and federal priority list for vaccine distribution, the City of Arlington Fire Department will provide COVID-19 vaccinations to EMS workers and health care personnel across east Tarrant County. 

Pictured from left: Gerald Randall Assistant Chief of Arlington Fire Department, Mark Kessler Regional Director of AMR, Cynthia Simmons Public Health Authority for the City of Arlington

The City of Arlington vaccine distribution site has been set up inside the Esports Stadium Arlington + Expo Center (formerly known as the Arlington Convention Center).

The City of Arlington, specifically the Arlington Fire Department, has been allotted 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Without a confirmed shipment date, the city is hoping to receive the initial doses by the end of the week.

The Arlington Fire Department in cooperation with American Medical Response; requested vaccines from the state. The number of vaccines was determined by several factors, including the number of people that could be vaccinated at the distribution center and storage capacity. The city has every temperature range of refrigeration available for vaccines. 

“The one thing we are all very proud of in this partnership is the City of Arlington has been the most progressive that I’ve seen – even in most places across the country when it came to getting on top of testing,” said Mark Kessler Regional Director for American Medical Response.

The city of Arlington has conducted over 77,000 COVID tests with the Arlington Fire Department being a big part of that. This reputation for administering testing helped get this early shipment of vaccines to Arlington.

In the fight against COVID-19, the city has increased sanitation of ambulances, implemented screening systems in public buildings for events. This has allowed the city to continue to host several events, including the PBR World Championship and several Cowboys games. The partnership between the American Medical Response, Arlington Fire Department, and the city has allowed for innovative systems to be developed and implemented to keep Arlington residents safe.

Phase one of vaccine distribution will focus on 911 EMS responders, including Arlington firefighters and paramedics. Sixty Arlington Firefighters have been infected with COVID-19 over the past ten months. 

“We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Gerald Randall, Assistant Chief of Arlington Fire Department. Randall oversees the operation support, which includes medical operations of the fire department.

Arlington Firefighters and EMS personnel are highly encouraged to take the vaccine but are not required to.

Other city’s EMS workers from the Eastern side of Tarrant county including Grapevine, Hurst Euless, Bedford, Pantego, and Dalworthington Gardens will get vaccinated in Arlington.

The vaccinations will then expand to other healthcare providers in Arlington and the surrounding cities. Arlington School District nurses and healthcare workers will be included.

The Arlington vaccine distribution center can handle approximately 100 vaccines per hour and anticipate using the first shipment within three to four days. As more shipments are allotted the Arlington Fire Department aims to expand distribution.

Assistant Chief Randall showing the contactless temperature checks at the entrance of the distribution center.

Those that are eligible for phase one vaccinations will preregister online or on-site.  Following the Texas Department of State Health Guidelines and CDC recommendations, temperature checks, masks, and social distancing will be required at the distribution center.

The vaccination process is two-step requiring two vaccinations 28 days apart. Those who receive a vaccine will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes to ensure no allergic reactions to the vaccine. “People who are vaccinated will have to continue to follow social distancing protocols,” explains Doctor Cynthia Simmons, Public Health Authority for the City of Arlington and the Medical Director for the Arlington EMS system, “We are excited to be part of this solution”.

There are plans to move to a drive-thru system as the supply of vaccines increases.

For more information about the City’s fight against COVID-19 or resources available to residents and businesses in our community, please visit www.arlingtontx.gov/coronavirus.

For the latest COVID-19 news in Arlington, please visit our resource page.

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Nikki Frisby
Nikki Frisby
Nikki is an Arlington, Texas native who loves finding hole in the wall restaurants, exploring new cultures, and listening to live music. She is currently a marketing and management double major at the University of Texas at Arlington who is involved in the Goolsby Leadership Academy, American Marketing Association, and LGBTQA Program. As a Yelp Elite member she supports local business and is always up to try new foods.