Vermont's EMTs and paramedics authorized to give flu shots

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- More than 700 of Vermont's licensed emergency medical technicians and paramedics are now eligible to serve as vaccinators at public and school clinics across the state.

Qualified EMTs and paramedics must first file an application with the Vermont Department of Health.

The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus is widespread in Vermont, and EMTs who serve in fire departments, private and municipal emergency medical services can expand the number of qualified health care professionals who can administer vaccine.

"These health care professionals will be a valuable resource as we work to vaccinate those who are most at risk for serious complications from the new H1N1 flu," said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, who issued the order Nov. 17 that implements these new temporary provisions of the EMS rule, and authorizes EMTs and paramedics to provide flu shots at clinics.

A total of 142 school-based clinics and 17 public clinics have been held to date as part of an ongoing mass vaccination effort to protect as many people as possible who are most at risk for serious complications from the flu. Vaccinations are also given in hospitals, health care provider offices and other settings.

"We are already trained to give injections, and this is a valuable community service that we can provide," said Christian Phelps, a registered nurse and paramedic who is also the emergency medical services and emergency preparedness director for the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.