I was vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Vashon Pharmacy Tuesday, September 21.
For the last several weeks you have been learning about my vaccine status in this newspaper and in social media. Now it’s time for me to speak with you directly and fill you in on what’s been happening. As you know, it has been a challenging time for the Fire District and the community, and you deserve an update.
People have been asking why I did not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot.
Yes, I was hesitant. I was not sure the COVID vaccine was the right choice for me and I held back. I’ve been vaccinated against many other diseases but this vaccine concerned me. I’m still concerned, even though I have now received the Johnson & Johnson injection. I knew I could safely serve by following the standing COVID protocols that we have followed at VIFR since the beginning of the pandemic, a full year before vaccine was available. To this day, no patient or VIFR responder has contracted COVID in the field. The safety protocols work, but then the Governor issued Proclamation 21-14 and they no longer appear to be enough.
When the vaccination mandate was issued, I no longer had the option of making a personal and private choice about my health care. It was upsetting, to be forced into a situation when there was another way to handle this. Other states have offered alternatives of weekly testing for those who had concerns about the COVID vaccine. As reported on these pages, the Fire District Commissioners decided not to agree with my request to relieve me of EMT duties so the Governor’s proclamation applied to me. I felt trapped and angry.
So, please accept my apology that my anger got the better of me. I made some regrettable remarks to The Beachcomber and at a Commissioner’s meeting. Looking back, I wish I had done a better job of explaining myself.
So, it’s fair to ask, why would I now get the vaccine if I feel this way? Like a lot of decisions, there are layers of reasons.
I did not want to leave the District in the lurch after putting five years of blood, sweat and tears into the job. We have worked hard to bring the District back from the brink of bankruptcy and improve it and grow it. We worked together to meet this historic pandemic challenge and it’s not a good time to change leadership while we still face the Delta spike, and who knows what is yet to come.
I love doing this job and I want to keep doing it. The fact is, I need to keep doing this job because it is in my heart and nature. There’s also no denying that I had no plans in place to suddenly have my salary and pension taken from me and that contributed to my dilemma.
What happens next? Well, I’ve informed the Commissioners that I’m vaccinated. There have been demands that they fire me. I hope they will not. If they do not, I am prepared to continue into my 22nd year of service to the community. I wrote a similar note to the members the District, asking them to join me in growing Vashon Island Fire and Rescue if I am allowed to continue my service.
Thank you for your patience as I worked my way through this trying time.
Charles H. Krimmert, Fire Chief , Vashon Island Fire and Rescue