First responder discusses why the COVID-19 vaccine matters

As America surpasses 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, one first responder who is new to the job says he's glad to have gotten the coronavirus vaccine.

RELATED: ‘Grim and horrific milestone’: Biden marks more than 500K American lives lost to COVID-19

Brison Hardin got his two doses but already lost an older cousin and a childhood friend to COVID-19.

In November, Hardin's dream to become a first responder came true. After a grueling academy in pandemic times, he became a Los Angeles County firefighter. He's passionate about helping people.

Losing his older cousin Jesse to COVID-19 was a first for his family. Then, in January he lost a childhood friend, Khadlif Sheers, who was only 42. Sheers was a father of two and a private chef.

Their friendship lasted decades with Sheers attending Hardin's wedding.

Hardin grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He was raised by a single mom and played high school baseball. He's concerned about getting accurate COVID-19 information to his family and community.

One photo on academy graduation day has him posing with fellow African-American firefighter classmates. New data from LA County shows quite a disparity between who is getting the vaccine and who is not.

FOX 11 reported, "The rate of vaccination among White and Asian residents in L.A. County continues to be significantly higher than that among Black/African American and Latino/Latinx residents. Black/African Americans have received 5.2% of vaccinations administered to date while accounting for 9% of the 16 and older population. Latinx residents received 23% of vaccinations while accounting for 46% of the 16 and older population."

RELATEDStay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

For Hardin, it was a phenomenal accomplishment to become a first responder. Add in the losses due to COVID-19 and he feels a greater honor being in the field of saving lives.

If you would like to help, you can click the GoFundMe page here.

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