Petition calls for Alberta firefighters to be added to Phase 2C of vaccination rollout

Alberta's firefighters union is asking for its frontline members to be moved up on the province's vaccine rollout priority list. (File Photo)

Nurses, dentists, pharmacists and support staff are on a long list of frontline health care workers now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The latest group — Phase 2C — targets Albertans 18 years of age and older who provide direct patient care to the province's most vulnerable.

The goal is twofold, says Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

"The reason for taking the vaccine isn't just for me as an individual, but also for all the vulnerable people around me," he said.

That's why the Calgary Firefighters' Association thinks its members should be included in Phase 2C. Though some who do paramedics work are eligible, many of the city's firefighters are not.

"We are medical responders, all firefighters. We respond to opioid overdoses, we do CPR," said association spokesperson Matt Osborne.

Not protecting firefighters, he says, is putting the city at risk.

At least 50 firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19, he says, and more than 15 are in isolation after being considered a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

"We're now seeing firetrucks taken out of service. This is having a direct impact on frontline emergency response," he said.

"So we feel this is a time firefighters can be included in the vaccine program."

A petition has also been started, calling on firefighters to be included in Phase 2C.

One idea gaining traction online is a doctor's call for some in the latest eligibility group to step aside for firefighters, and teachers.

Dear Acupuncturists, naturopaths, and chiropractors. Please donate your spot in line for vaccination to teachers and firefighters.

— Darren Markland (@drdagly) April 12, 2021

With variants hitting the 10-29-year-old age category hard, Premier Jason Kenney pointed on Monday to social gatherings rather than schools as the source of transmission, but advocates are concerned.

"What we can see is that there is a need to adapt to this changing environment with variants present in our communities and the school environment should be a huge concern and it should be addressed," said Medeana Moussa with Support Our Students  

The premier says the vaccine rollout follows the advice of Alberta and Canada's scientific advisory group to target more vulnerable groups.

With files from CTV Calgary's Alesia Fieldberg