Teachers Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

It has been nearly a year since COVID-19 took over the world, shutting down schools, businesses, and society. We are all now very familiar with masks, social distancing, and terms such as “unprecedented” and “new normal.” The health industry has finally made some headway after a year of developing the COVID vaccine. A handful of companies such as Moderna and Pfizer have successfully rolled out vaccines and are quickly distributing them around the world.

Our very own D38 teachers are receiving the opportunity to get their first vaccine shot (out of two), starting last weekend. Principal Dr. Bramschreiber has pledged to take the vaccine, as well as dozens of teachers across the district. Though D38 is working with the Colorado Health Department and encourage all teachers to get the vaccine, they are not requiring it.

“D38 isn’t actually implementing the vaccine. The vaccine is going to be implemented through El Paso County, department of public health… and Centura Health. We’re actually focusing on our energies into a collaboration with Centura Health in hopes that they will be our primary conduit to the vaccinations,” said Rick Frampton, student services director.

The Health Department is randomly choosing teachers from districts across the state to receive the vaccination in mass groups. It may take up to 4-6 weeks for teachers to get the first vaccine, then they would have to wait 3-4 weeks for their second dose. “Depending on how fast [teachers get vaccinations], we’ll be able to use that information to make a determination of when we can reopen,” said Frampton.

Outside of vaccinations, teachers are also being encouraged to order the BinaxNOW COVID test. Frampton has used the tests himself, saying, “I received through Amazon a box that has six COVID tests in it. It came in less than 24 hours. What that test is designed to do is, we call it ‘serial testing for healthy people.’ It enables our teachers to test on a regular interval… every Sunday afternoon. Every teacher tests themselves at home and the BinaxNOW gives them a rapid 15-minute result and the hope is that when we’re testing someone, and the result is asymptomatic positive, we would catch that early so they don’t bring it to school and spread that to everyone else… That should be starting as early as Monday [February 8].”

In regards to how the distribution of vaccines could affect next year, Frampton states, “I hope that next school year looks like last school year and that we put this behind us and we’re able to do full in-person, all the time, everywhere. I don’t know if it’s going to go back to normal, what we had before; [we may have] to continually have cleaning protocols in place… We will follow the same recommendations that the Health Department provides everybody.”

Mr. and Mrs. Patrick of PRHS got their vaccines a few weekends ago, at Memorial North.

“I was originally scheduled to get vaccinated at a mass event for teachers at the World Arena on February 14th, but it was canceled due to the sub-zero weather. Fortunately, Mrs. Patrick and I were able to get in at Memorial North on the 15th for our first dose,” said Mr. Patrick. “They had a very efficient system with about five stations set up, and it only took about 15 minutes once we checked in. I don’t like needles, but it really didn’t hurt at all! My arm was pretty sore for a couple of days though.”

Vaccinations at UC Health. Photo by Luxe Palmer

Though some Americans have been voicing their concerns over the vaccines, including their safety, effectiveness, and relatively recent development, Mr. Patrick had no hesitations. “The vaccine really represents hope for an end to the pandemic, and I was very excited when the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were approved. Because I am older and we have been in-person since August, I have been very anxious to be vaccinated. I’ve had no concerns or hesitations in getting vaccinated, as these vaccines are very safe and highly effective,” he said.

Mr. Patrick adds, “My belief is that everyone should be vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccine is what can get us past the pandemic and restore a sense of normality again to our society and to the economy. For our schools, it is especially important!”

The vaccine will continue to be distributed to teachers and, eventually, the rest of the community. Some debate whether the vaccine is a sure sign of the end of the pandemic and its subsequent “new normal,” but it is a definite step towards the future.