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Dawson County first responders receive COVID-19 vaccine
VACCINES - FIRST RESPONDERS 2
Lt. Taylor Hulme of the Dawson County Fire Department receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Lumpkin County Department of Health on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services)

On Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, two members of the Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Department became the first emergency responders in Dawson County to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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According to Dawson County Fire Chief and EMA Director Danny Thompson, Lt. Taylor Hulme and Division Chief Jason Dooley were the first fire department personnel to receive initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but in the coming week, the county will begin sending more first responders to get the vaccine at the Lumpkin County Health Department.

Thompson said that at this point, all first responders in the county are eligible to receive the vaccine and approximately 25% of his staff have requested to receive it. 

"We're not making it mandatory," Thompson said. " But we are strongly urging them to get it to protect their families and our citizens."

On Dec. 31, 2020, data from the Georgia Department of Public Health showed that rates of COVID-19 infection are continuing to rise in Dawson County and throughout Georgia.  

In the last two weeks, Dawson County reported 290 new positive cases of the virus, bringing the countywide pandemic total to 1,679 cases. Over the last year, 16 people in Dawson County have died due to the virus and 158 people have been hospitalized from it. 

"The test positivity rate for Dawson County has increased to 25% over the past two weeks," Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services said in a post about the newly vaccinated first responders. "We encourage everyone to do what they can to help slow the spread."