County vaccinator reaches bittersweet milestone

Malheur County Ambulance Service District Director Bob Dickinson, center, administers his 1,000th COVID-19 vaccine to Steve Hansen of Ontario. Eric Evans, Malheur County Planning Director and the Incident Command team’s logistics officer, has been Bob’s vaccine assistant for most of those.

Malheur County Ambulance Service District Director Bob Dickinson reached a bittersweet milestone on Thursday when he administered his 1,000th dose of COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event at Four Rivers Cultural Center.

“In my 30 years in this profession, never in my wildest dreams did I think that what I was training for would lead to this,” Bob said of the pandemic and his role in helping people protect themselves against it. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If this is what I’ve trained my whole life for, it’s meant to be.” He said what he enjoys most about administering COVID-19 vaccines is the joy and hope it brings to people.

As a member of the county’s Incident Command System team, Bob has been administering vaccines at the Malheur County Health Department’s vaccination clinics since they began on Jan. 6. Initially, vaccine clinics were open to 100 pre-registered participants and were scheduled for most of the day. Since then, the MCHD and ICS team has increased its capacity, distributing as many as 668 first and second doses in a day. To date, the team has administered 4,789 doses of vaccine. Bob has contributed about 20% of that total.

“Our command team brings a diverse group of individuals together, with different experience and training,” Malheur County Incident Commander and Emergency Manager Lt. Rich Harriman said. “Not only do we benefit from Bob’s knowledge and expertise when it comes to planning our COVID-19 response, he brings decades of work in the field to our vaccine PODs, giving us high numbers of vaccines administered per event. He makes it fun. I wouldn’t want to do it without him.”

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