Gloucester's police and fire chiefs have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Police Chief Ed Conley and fire Chief Eric Smith received the first dose of the Moderna vaccination Thursday about 4:15 p.m.
"This is a big deal," Smith said in a prepared statement. "I think anything you can do to prevent COVID-19, wearing a mask, washing your hands, sanitizing, distancing ... I think those are all steps that are important that we're taking, but the vaccine is really the cure to the problem."
The Moderna vaccine is one of two approved by the Centers for Disease Control and recommended to prevent the virus. The other is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine which requires two doses administered 21 days apart.
Smith said getting the vaccine is very personal.
“My father who was a nursing home patient, dealing with dementia, ended up catching COVID and he didn’t survive,” he said in a video. “It was one of the additional causes that led to him dying over this past summer.”
Conley has been discussing the vaccine for weeks as his wife works for a pharmaceutical company.
"This has been a conversation in my house since the vaccine news first appeared," he explained in a video. "Knowing her understanding of the medical field and certainly everything that I have read, I have no doubt that this vaccine has been tested in accordance with best practices and I am certain that is the best move for me and my family."
Conley and Smith received the vaccine ahead of a regional clinic that will be held in Gloucester next week to distribute the vaccination to select first responders from Gloucester, Ipswich, Manchester, Essex, and Rockport.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the city will begin distributing 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine to the first responders by appointment only at the Rose Baker Senior Center at 6 Manuel F. Lewis St. The vaccine will be given to each person in two doses, approximately one month apart at the same vaccination site.
"I'd really like to thank Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken for her leadership and our Public Health Director Karin Carroll who has been the incident commander for this pandemic," Conley said in a prepared statement. "I would like to thank the governor, lieutenant governor, and our local legislators including Senator Bruce Tarr and Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante for all the work they've done to make sure Cape Ann received the vaccine in a timely fashion."
According to Gov. Charlie Baker's vaccination distribution plan, the vaccine will be made available to the general public in April at the earliest.
"I think it's critically important to move forward from this to get everybody a vaccine that we can," Smith added.
Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.