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Georgia Department of Public Health vaccinates first responders

The Georgia Department of Public Health began vaccinating first responders in Troup County Tuesday morning.

GDPH Public Information Officer Edward Hiltz said that they received a shipment of more than 200 vaccines and expected to vaccinate more than 100 first responders on Tuesday.

“Everyone has been very happy and receptive when pulling up,” Hiltz said. “They’re happy the vaccine is now available to them.”

Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis was the first person in line Tuesday morning to receive his vaccine.

“It was the right thing to do,” Ekaitis said. “It was the right thing to do, not only for myself as an individual but for my family and friends and for the job I do as a public servant.”

According to GDPH, there is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine. The vaccine imitates the infection so that the body can create antibody defenses to fight off COVID-19.

“The future of the results of this vaccine remains to be seen,” Ekaitis said. “I believe in the manufacturers and the CDC. I believe in their findings. It just came down to personal preference because I felt as a public servant it was my job to do it.”

Ekaitis said he chose to get the vaccine because he also wanted to protect himself.

“Being 61 years old means my immune system is not as good as it once was many years ago,” Ekaitis said. “I now have the comfort of knowing I have the vaccination now.”

Among the next few first responders to get vaccinated Tuesday morning was TCFD Sgt. Russel Reid.

“I am exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis at my job,” Reid said. “I figured the vaccine is there, and from what I read it is safe, so I’ll try it. I didn’t even feel the needle and feel fine.”

LaGrange Fire Chief John Brant said that after receiving the vaccine he felt relieved.

“All we hear is the negative but to have the first shot with no complications up to this point feels great,” Brant said. “I wanted to get the vaccine to protect myself, family and coworkers. I think it is important for us to get vaccinated so that we can get back to normal.”

Brant said he proud of the firefighters and staff that stepped up Tuesday to get the vaccine.

“The folks of LaGrange Fire Department are there for our citizens whenever they are needed, and it makes me feel better knowing that the ones that took the vaccination will be protected moving forward,” Brant said. “Statistics don’t lie. A lot of bad diseases have been eradicated because of vaccinations.”