Guilford County prepares to vaccinate school personnel

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — It’s a big goal for Guilford County Schools and the Guilford County Health Department: get 10,000 staff members vaccinated in about two and a half weeks.

Now, there’s a plan in place to get the job done.

It’ll be a phased in approach. The first shots will be for staff who work with exceptional students.

Then, the district will move on to different age groups.

County and health leaders are only able to make this happen by setting aside the county’s base vaccine allotment for two straight weeks.

“We would need two and a half weeks to vaccinate all of the educators if 80% of them show interest in the vaccine,” said Dr. Iulia Vann, the director for the Guilford County Health Department.

That’s by using 7,500 weekly doses that the health department already receives, in addition to an extra 1,170 coming in from the state health department.

This boost was already planned and was not a response to teachers getting added to the eligibility list.

“We feel very comfortable and very confident to get close to vaccinating a big number of educators,” Vann said.

She shared the priority list for educators during the Guilford County Commissioners meeting Thursday night.

It’s a list that Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras and her team created.

“I will go in the first group on Thursday [Feb. 25], just to show the staff that I’m not afraid to take this and that it’s a good thing for us to receive vaccinations,” Contreras said.

Here’s how educators will sign up:

The GCS school system will have links that staff can use to set up appointments for six days, starting on Feb. 25.

This will also validate their eligibility.

“We do not require any type of IDs at any of our sites,” said Don Campbell, the Emergency Management director for Guilford County. “The goal is to reduce barriers for getting the vaccine.

Shannon Myers is a Dudley High School teacher with pre-existing health conditions.

“I’m worried about going back without the vaccine,” she said. “I feel uncomfortable in the building, even without the students there.”

Myers is excited her shot is coming soon.

Jamestown Middle School teacher Riley Driver will have to wait a bit longer.

“I’m 32 years old. I’m one of the last groups,” she said.

Once all of the staff working with exceptional students gets protected, people 51-64 years old will line up next.

Then 36-50-year-olds will have their opportunities, and finally, 18-35-year-olds.

“It’s a relief to know that it’s coming and I’m proud of the work that it’s taken to make it work,” Driver said.

Guilford County teachers told FOX8 they’re thrilled to see a real vaccination schedule rolled out.

“I hope we get this done as quickly as we can. You know, this whole experience has been very difficult,” Driver said. “Vaccines are something that is definitely going to make me feel better.”

The vaccines for educators and school staff are only coming through the Guilford County Health Department.

If anyone 65-years-old, or older, has not received their vaccination yet, Cone Health and other health care providers are assisting the county in making sure everyone in those age groups are vaccinated.

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