WELLESLEY, Mass. — Starting Monday, first responders across the state will begin getting their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 45,000 police officers, firefighters and EMTs will have access, making up the last group in Phase 1 of Massachusetts’ rollout plan.
At the Wellesley Fire Department, two firefighters, in particular, will have the privilege of getting their shots first.
“The most challenging experiences people can go through in life is when a disease threatens your life,” Wellesley Fire Chief Rick DeLorie said on Sunday night.
It was DeLorie’s idea to have firefighters Joanie Cullinan and Brian Hester get their vaccinations together. Cullinan is a cancer survivor who is still working through the pandemic, even while immunocompromised. Hester is a COVID-19 survivor who spent nearly three months this year in the hospital.
“I’m getting there. I’m just glad to be alive,” Hester told Boston 25 News. “The fire department has been great during my recovery, the chief especially. I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends and everybody here.”
“The past year has been tough on everybody, and I think that we’re both proof that we can do hard things and that it does get better and day by day. Keep pushing through,” Cullinan said.
The two fought different battles but still did so side-by-side. Now they plan to set an example of what it means to come out on top.
“I’m pretty honored to be put in the same boat as this guy and get the shot with him, so it’s pretty neat,” Cullinan said.
On Monday afternoon at 4 p.m., the two will receive their first vaccinations inside their fire station. Other firefighters and police officers will follow suit.
“You’ve just got to keep smiling and have faith […] one day at a time,” Cullinan said.
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