NEW YORK (WABC) -- FDNY EMTs and paramedics are the first of New York City first responders to get the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, with firefighters and members of the FDNY set to being receiving the shot next week.
The department says 450 of those who have been showing up at homes and caring for patients since the start of the pandemic are receiving the Moderna vaccine.
Next in line, starting December 29, are firefighters and NYPD officers.
Sadly, on the same day as the vaccine rollout, the FDNY announced the death of a 27-year veteran EMT from the coronavirus.
Evelyn Ford died Tuesday night at the age of 58. She served as citywide dispatcher, coordinating emergency medical response to large scale emergencies, including major fires and mass casualty incidents.
"One of the good people at EMS, one of the people who serves us, passed away," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Her name was Evelyn Ford. EMT, 27-year member of EMS. She went in 1994. She was working for emergency medical dispatch unit. Very, very sad, just now, as we get to turn the corner, the vaccine has finally arrived, we lose a good woman who has served us so well for so long."
Ford is the 12th member of the FDNY to die of coronavirus and the first since May, while at least 5,700 members of the FDNY have been infected since the pandemic began.
A recent survey of 2,000 members of the United Firefighters Association showed that only about 45% would get vaccinated, which is not nearly enough to achieve herd immunity.
A third of FDNY members, 5,000 of them, contracted COVID already, so there is a belief they have immunity.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro says that even if you've had COVID, science shows you still need the vaccine.
The city is launching a campaign to increase confidence in the vaccine, and working to convince not just first responders but all New Yorkers that the vaccines are safe and effective.
"We're already vaccinating people at twice the national average," de Blasio said. "There is a lot of focus, there's a lot of intensity in the approach to make sure the maximum people get vaccinated as quickly as possible. We also have to educate people, we have to get people comfortable with the vaccine."
As for FDNY members and police officers, they're not required to get the vaccine but strongly encouraged to do so.
RELATED | Poll shows 63% of Americans say they will take COVID vaccine
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE
Coronavirus by zip code - New York City
COVID Vaccine Calculator: Find out how many people may get a COVID-19 vaccine before you
Do you have coronavirus symptoms?
Where to get tested for COVID-19 coronavirus
WATCH: Eyewitness to a Pandemic
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
Submit a News Tip