D.C. Fire and EMS Identifies First Ones to Receive COVID-19 Vaccination

Five members of department get shots this week

Samantha Mitchell, WJLA/ABC7 with permission

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is recognizing the five D.C. Fire Rescue members who are set to take the coronavirus vaccine this week.

This past week, it was determined that frontline emergency responders and health care workers would be among the first to take the vaccine in D.C.

“Today, we have hope. After a long and tragic nine months, help is finally on the way. The First Five are sending a strong message about the importance of this vaccine to protect them, their families and loved ones, their patients and coworkers, and our entire city,” said Mayor Bowser. “Our frontline health care workers and emergency responders have led our community through this pandemic with courage and compassion, and now we are proud to deliver this vaccine to them. Finally, we can work together to end this pandemic. While we must stay vigilant during this nationwide surge in cases, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.”

Kaiser Permanente has been arranged by D.C. Health to administer the vaccine to the DC Fire Rescue members on the Kaiser site starting this week.

Kaiser is set to receive the vaccine doses on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

The first five people named to receive the vaccine include Acting Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly, the Department’s Medical Director Dr. Robert Holman, Lieutenants Joseph Papariello and Keishea Jackson, and Firefighter/EMT Julio Quinteros.

Bowser’s office says the first five are all D.C. residents and “recognize this monumental time in the District’s history and are getting vaccinated to protect themselves, their brothers and sisters in the firehouse, their families, and the patients that each of them compassionately treat and care for every day.”

Donnelly was nominated to serve as the acting Fire and EMS Chief by Bowser on Sept. 4, 2020. He started working with D.C. Fire and EMS in 1992 at Truck 16, and has served as part of rescue squads, Battalion Fire Chief, Division Commander of Special Operations, Homeland Security, Apparatus Division, and as a member of the Command Staff in Special Project and Executive Officer Roles.

Dr. Holman began his medical career at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, later returning to the District for his residency in Internal Medicine at Georgetown University. He joined the department in Feb. 2016 after working on a fellowship for Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

Both Lieutenant Jackson and Papariello joined the department in 2003. Jackson is assigned to the department’s Homeland Security Division and Papariello is an officer of Engine Co. 23 in Foggy Bottom.

Firefighter/EMT Julio Quinteros is a recent graduate from the Training Academy and is assigned to Truck 4 at Engine Co. 6 in Shaw.

“My father is everything to me, he’s my world. And if I don’t get it for any other reason, I have to get it for my daddy. I have to make sure he’s safe,” said Lieutenant Jackson. “I’m getting vaccinated for my city. In the last nine months, I’ve seen COVID devastate my department. I’ve seen my brothers and sisters go into the hospital. I’ve seen them with severe symptoms – things we never thought we would see. I’m getting vaccinated for my coworkers, I’m getting vaccinated for my family, and I’m getting vaccinated to make a change.”

Chief Donnelly and Dr. Holaman say they are “fully confident” in the vaccine along with its safety and effectiveness. Both say they are voluntarily taking the vaccine, saying its an “important and necessary” step to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am so proud of the work and dedication our members have displayed over the last nine months,” said Acting Chief Donnelly. “We have all been through a lot, and they each deserve to be one of the first in the District to get this vaccine.”

“The vaccine is a game-changer for this Department and its members, who selflessly give of themselves to the hundreds of patients who call on them to help each day,” said Dr. Holman. “The best strategy for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is through widespread vaccination, and we believe getting vaccinated will not only protect our members, but those we treat and compassionately care for every day.”

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