La Crosse firefighters join growing list of Wisconsinites vaccinated for COVID-19

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- More Wisconsinites are being vaccinated for COVID-19, including some of La Crosse’s firefighters. 

Hidden behind his mask is a smile Brandon Scharmer would like to share. “Oh you have no clue.”, says the firefighter paramedic. Scharmer and other members of the department are receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s a glimmer of hope, a step in the right direction, really the only solution we have to this problem.”, says Scharmer.

First responders have been taking extraordinary precautions since the start of the pandemic by wearing layers of personal protective equipment.  A barrier between them and virus, and in some cases, their patients. “When I’m treating my patients, I’m down on their level and I’m talking. I miss my interaction with patients without having a mask on my face.”

Masks are not going away anytime soon.  “While we are only weeks into this monumental undertaking, incredible progress has been made.”, says Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.  According to Van Dijk, roughly 105-Wisconsinites have received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.  A faction of the population and not nearly enough to let our guard or mask down. “We still need to fight the pandemic while we ramp up the vaccination effort. It’s still going to be a number of months until we can let go of these important habits we’ve learned over the past year.”, explains Van Dijk.

Scharmer will receive his second dose later this month; masked up with a grin and confidence he will provide face to face care soon.” I cannot wait to let them see my smile again.”

Firefighters are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but Scharmer tells News 8 Now nearly all of his co-workers have or will be vaccinated.