coronavirus pandemic

CalFire, San Diego County Fire Departments Provide COVID-19 Vaccines to Rural Areas

Operation Collaboration brings CalFire and 21 San Diego County fire stations together to vaccinate people in rural areas

NBC Universal, Inc.

Operation Collaboration is a partnership between San Diego CalFire and 21 Fire Departments in San Diego county to help provide COVID-19 vaccines to rural and remote areas.

The program is putting hundreds of paramedics to work, “We're able to put them to use out in these rural sites where folks that have mobility issues and have a harder time getting into the city,” said Capt. Thomas Shoots, San Diego CalFire and Operation Collaboration Public Information Officer.

Loraine Gruber and her husband Wally Buckingham were able to get Buckingham’s second dose of the vaccine through the program at one of the participating fire stations in Carlsbad.

“The two of us are just really grateful for organizations like CalFire, “ said Gruber.

There are fixed pod vaccination sites in Carlsbad and at Cuyamaca College and pop up sites at dozens of fire stations in places like Borrego Springs, Julian, Ramona, and Carlsbad, where Buckingham was finally able to get that shot just a few miles from his home.

Both doses of the vaccine are vital to Buckingham because he's been fighting cancer since last March when the pandemic began, “So we were really on edge about catching COVID-19, and so I’m really happy to get the shot.”

While other vaccine locations have closed around the county, due to vaccine shortages in part because of the weather, the fire stations participating in Operation Collaboration have been concentrating on making sure people get their second dose.

“We want to deliver those second doses to folks and get them clear so we continue moving on with the first doses,” said Capt. Shoots.

CalFire said they are waiting for more doses to arrive at the end of next week before they schedule new first time doses.

Seniors in in long term care facilities out in remote and rural areas are also getting residents vaccinated through Operation Collaboration.

Buckingham tells NBC 7 he hopes everyone will take the shot because his life could depend on it, “I think everybody has to be vaccinated we got vaccinated for Polio, we stopped Polio, we got our childhood vaccinations, and we stopped a lot of childhood diseases.”

San Diego CalFire says they will continue this program is long as it takes to get everyone in rural areas of the county vaccinated.

“Together we can roll in the same direction and we can end this pandemic and we can get on with our lives,” Buckingham’s wife Loraine Gruber, who is also a healthcare worker, told NBC 7.

For more information on vaccine safety or to make an appointment go to the San Diego CalFire Facebook Page or call 211.

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