There's more than 2 million healthcare personnel in the state. Since they've been at the forefront of the pandemic for the past year, they've been prioritized to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

"We are ready to vaccinate and we are vaccinating," said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

What You Need To Know

  • EMS personnel in our region have started receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

  • AMR Western New York's chief EMS officer says they're privileged to be among the first to get immunized

  • Dr. Burstein says next round will go to healthcare workers who deal with the public but aren't affiliated with hospitals

Those on the frontlines of the pandemic are among the first in line. 

"I would say it was a very busy time. Iit was also a very trying year for our providers, of the men and women in the streets," said Scott Karaszweski, the chief EMS officer for AMR Western New York. 

AMR Western New York employs hundreds of paramedics, EMTs, and other support staff to provide medical transportation and patient care. Since emergency medical services personnel are part of Phase 1A of the state's vaccination program, AMR workers in the region started getting vaccinated late last month. 

"It's already underway. New York state has championed the process and then the providers actually self-schedule themselves in the system and then go for their appointments for their vaccination," Karaszweski said.

Karaszweski plans to sign up for an appointment soon, but is grateful those in his line of work are being prioritized in the vaccination rollout.

"It's a privilege that we do no take lightly. It puts us right in line with the rest of the health care community, so we're very appreciative of being recognized as such," Karaszweski said.

Dr. Burstein said the next round of immunizations will go to people who work in health care in the community, but are not affiliated with hospitals.

"That includes doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, behavioral health workers, people working in laboratories, people working in dialysis centers, all those people working, who directly interface with the public," Dr. Burstein said. 

Starting next week, Dr. Burstein said home health care workers, hospice workers, and skilled nursing facility staff who haven't received the vaccine yet will be eligible for their first dose.

"It's a pandemic that nobody has lived through before, so our hats off go to our men and women who showed up to work everyday and gave it their all," Karaszweski said.