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St. Louis County firefighters answer the call to vaccinate the community

St. Louis County will resume using the Johnson & Johnson shot in their homebound program next week, but residents can also choose to get the Pfizer vaccine

EUREKA, Mo. — St. Louis County firefighters have been working tirelessly to keep the county safe: both in emergency cases and from COVID-19.

"When something happens in the community, the community reaches out to first responders for help,” Chief Greg Brown, Eureka Fire Protection District said.

Getting the community vaccinated has been a full-time job. Nearly 6,000 people have been vaccinated at the Eureka Fire Protection District Training Center according to the department. An additional 1,000 people have been vaccinated as a part of the homebound vaccination efforts.

"Even if they had mobility pre-COVID, the chance of them going out and catching the virus is too great for them to take a chance,” Chief Brown said.

“Typically what do we do? respond to fire or accidents,” Scott Barthelmass, a firefighter said. “We are protecting people. This is just another way of us protecting people and probably on a larger scale.”

Barthelmass has been on a handful of these visits to homes of at-risk families or long-term care facilities. He said the shots he’s handing out are giving grandparents and folks with compromised health their life back.

“You are seeing people who are truly happy, excited that they are protected and able to get back to life as we used to know it,” Barthelmass said.

When problems popped up with the J&J shot, the county continued the homebound program using Pfizer’s vaccine. Now that the J&J shot is cleared for use, patients will have the option between the two vaccines.

"We want to make sure as people get this vaccination to prevent them from getting the virus, that they are comfortable with all of the potential outcomes," Chief Brown said.

The St. Louis County will resume the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting next week.

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