Gadsden County EMS plays important role in COVID-19 vaccinations

Posted at 5:56 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 17:56:23-05

QUINCY, Fla. (WTXL) — Rural counties like Gadsden typically have fewer doctors and nurses. A pinch especially felt right now, as the county works to vaccinate the community.

To help make the vaccine distributions more efficient, paramedics and EMTs are now playing a crucial role.

Dr. Adrian Cooksey is the Gadsden County Health Department Director and said so far, the process is going well.

"We are at 54 percent coverage of our senior population. We're doing about two to three clinics a week, normally a couple of hours. The clients are very excited about the process, the flow. It takes about 45 minutes from registration to monitoring," said Dr. Cooksey.

It's a process made smoother thanks to help from EMS workers. They're typically not the medical workers responsible for giving vaccinations, but Gadsden County EMS Chief Keith Maddox said that is changing.

"COVID's opened the door, it's not all negative, it's opened the door in the future to help the health department even if it's a flu vaccine," he said. "The more people we can vaccinate and the quicker we can get that done, the sooner we can reach the point where we reach some normalcy."

The rural county is also making sure that access is available across the board. Teams are now conducting home visits to administer the vaccine.

If someone is bed-ridden, a team of two to three medical workers will bring the shot to that person's front door. Dr. Cooksey said because EMS workers are so visible in the community, it helps make those home visits easier.

"Gadsden County has a smaller healthcare system than is needed. So we have to do outreach measures. This partnership has helped us to reach those people and they trust us because we are out in the community," she said.

Dr. Cooksey said Thursday saw a surge in those at-home vaccination calls that she hopes to see continue.

You can call the Gadsden County Health Department at (850) 329-0685 to schedule an appointment.