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Fulton County sheriff prepares to get COVID-19 vaccine after recovering from the virus

Sheriff Pat Labat, who has seen the impact of the coronavirus first-hand, said he wanted to lead by example and encourages his deputies to get vaccinated, also.

ATLANTA — On Monday, more Georgians will have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

This includes adults over 65, first responders, firefighters, and law enforcement. One of the first people set up to receive it is a sheriff who recovered from the virus just last month.

“I’m in a space where I can set the tone, set the example and we are going to do this first thing in the morning," Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat said.

Phase 1A+ of the COVID vaccine plan in Georgia expands Monday to include more people such as first-responders.

Sheriff Labat will receive his at 9 a.m. sharp.

“I’ve had friends and family that have passed. I understand the impact," he said. "I’ve watched close friends and family be impacted by this.”

Not only has he watched others being impacted, but he himself got COVID-19 during a sheriff’s academy in December.

“When you are stricken with the loss of smell and taste, you really find yourself in a situation, praying that it comes back and are joyous when it comes back," he said.

As deaths in Georgia surpass 10,000, Sheriff Labat said he wants to make sure he leads by example - not only for the law enforcement community but for minority communities.

“Understanding that women and men of Black and Brown persuasion, normally this impacts us way beyond the way we think we are impacted.”

The sheriff said he never hesitated at the thought of getting the vaccine. For him, it’s a step he can take to do what he’s done throughout his life: protect and serve.

“My mother, for instance - last time I saw her, she’s still not letting me pass the front door, but that’s where we are," he said. "If it’s an opportunity to get back to some sense of normalcy or pre-COVID, then we want to protect our community.”

Sheriff Labat said he is encouraging his deputies to get the vaccine but, for now, it remains a personal choice for them. In addition, Labat plans to donate plasma, which he hopes can help save additional lives.