SOUTH GATE (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Fire Department has experienced a “drastic decline” in coronavirus test positivity rates and a drop in the number of personnel out sick with the disease since they began receiving the vaccine, officials said Monday.

The department has steadily reported and documented steep declines in its COVID-19 test positivity rates following the distribution of the vaccines — all the way down to its current 5.6%. (CBSLA)

“With a nearly 75% acceptance rate in our department, the COVID-19 vaccine is allowing us to keep our first responders on track to stay as healthy as possible during these most challenging times of the pandemic,” county fire Chief Daryl Osby said in a statement.

READ MORE: OC Receives More Than 83,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses In Single Day

“With the second dose of the vaccine now being given to our team members, this will provide another layer of protection and allow us to continue to seamlessly provide the highest level of care to our patients,” Osby said.

In late December the fire department’s Emergency Medical Services Bureau coordinated the first vaccination clinics countywide which administered over 3,000 vaccines. When the clinics began, the department was reporting COVID-19 test positivity rates equivalent to the county’s rate of 18%.

“It felt like, for a long time, we were just slowly sinking deeper,” Dr. Clayton Kazan, L.A. County Fire medical director, said. “And then now the vaccine came along, and about a week or so later, the waters started to slowly recede.”

READ MORE: Stretch Of 5 Freeway In Norwalk Area To Close During Construction

The department has steadily reported and documented steep declines in its COVID-19 test positivity rates following the distribution of the vaccines — all the way down to its current 5.6%.

“As the county continues to surge, new cases among department personnel began dropping precipitously as did our test positivity rate,” Kazan said. “This is the first time in the entire pandemic that our data diverged from that of the County.”

This week, LACoFD physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners and paramedics will administer the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to department members.

MORE NEWS: People Making A Difference: Nonprofit Connects Artists With Those In Need

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)