By Bill Shields

QUINCY (CBS) – As of New Year’s Eve, the Quincy Police Department had 25 officers out of work with active COVID-19 cases. The department has a total of 225 cops.

On Thursday, Quincy firefighters and police started lining up for vaccinations. Only 30 on New Year’s Eve, but it can’t come soon enough for the police. They say it’s a welcome piece of armor.

Quincy firefighters received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday. (Photo credit: Friends of Quincy Firefighters)

“I think it’s critical that they get the shots out as quickly as they can,” said Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan. “It’s important because every day, we are interacting with the public. Not just us, but the police, fire and EMS — we’re interacting with the public. And we’ve got a big spike in the department, and we were good early on.”

Keenan hopes that by the end of next week, the entire department will have gotten the first dose of the vaccine.

Many health experts say the vaccines are being rapidly produced, but because there’s no nationwide distribution plan, anticipated supplies to the states have not been what was expected.

The Plymouth Fire Department has 23 members either in quarantine or actively fighting COVID-19 — out of 123.

“We knew at some point in time there was going to be a vaccine available. There should have been plans in place to get the first responders done quicker. It’s extremely frustrating,” said Plymouth Fire Chief Ed Bradley. “My crew has come into contact over 400 times with COVID-positive people since the pandemic started.”

On Thursday, Rich MacKinnon, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, confirmed the state will use large venues — including Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, The Big E fairgrounds and two other locations — as vaccination sites for first responders beginning the week of Jan. 18.

Bill Shields