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The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted this evening to approve placing all emergency medical services (EMS) personnel and other healthcare providers at the highest priority tier, Tier 1A, for receiving COVID-19 vaccines when they are approved. In making this decision, the ACIP placed non-EMS firefighters and all law enforcement personnel on a slightly lower tier, Tier 1B. This recommendation came in contrast to urging from the IAFC and other national fire and emergency service organizations to place all fire and EMS personnel in Tier 1A. The IAFC firmly believes that any artificial differentiation between firefighters and EMS personnel must be opposed by states and localities as EMS is an intrinsic component to the fire and emergency service’s mission and that firefighters are EMS providers.

The IAFC was disappointed to see the ACIP’s recommendations differ from those of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), who recommended earlier this summer that all fire and EMS personnel be placed in Tier 1A. The IAFC Board of Directors noted the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for the nation’s fire and emergency service when it adopted a position statement urging states to prioritize fire and EMS personnel for receiving the vaccine as well as encouraging all fire chiefs to promote vaccine confidence and acceptance among their personnel. 

Given the ACIP’s recommendation, as well as actions by several states to place fire and EMS personnel on lower priority tiers from other healthcare providers, the IAFC is urging all members to contact their governor and local health departments to explain the importance of placing all fire and EMS personnel in Tier 1A. The IAFC has developed a draft letter which can be shared with each state’s respective governor’s office and local health department officials. All IAFC members are urged to contact their governor’s office and explain the importance of including all fire and EMS personnel in Tier 1A for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Evan Davis is a strategic government relations manager for the IAFC.

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