GA teachers embrace COVID-19 vaccination eligibility


Photo Courtesy of CCSD Twitter, edited on Canva

NC teachers joined educators across the county on Friday when they received the COVID-19 vaccinations at Jim R. Miller Park. The mass vaccination site effectively allowed teachers to receive vaccines to prioritize their health as they continue to open their classrooms to face-to-face students eager to learn. 100% of NC teachers polled received the COVID-19 vaccination when presented with the option. 80% of these teachers received the Moderna vaccine, while the remaining 20% received Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccination.

Amber Roldan, Features Editor

The wrath of the Coronavirus affected the lives of billions of people across the globe. In Cobb County alone, COVID-19 forced schools and businesses to close, threatening the once flourishing economy. Luckily, after a year of darkness, separation, and social distancing, vaccine rollouts begin to allow life to resemble a fraction of what it looked like preceding the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The FDA and CDC approved the distribution of three COVID-19 vaccinations. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccinations all received approval and debuted in vaccination centers across the country. While each vaccine flaunts different rates of effectiveness, they all unite to stop and slow illness, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from COVID-19. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine constitutes the first Emergency Use Authorized (EUA) vaccine that made its way into the COVID-19 vaccination scene. Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart, and boasts an effectiveness rate of 95 percent. Pfizer-BioNTech received its anticipated EUA on December 11, 2020.

A week later, on December 18, 2020, the Moderna vaccination received its EUA and began to fight against the unprecedented virus. The CDC recommends the Moderna vaccination for people 18 and older. The vaccine requires two doses, 28 days apart. The effectiveness of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines rely on a common denominator; freezing temperatures. Vaccination centers store Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at negative 70 degrees celsius, and the Moderna vaccine at negative 20 degrees celsius. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen constitutes the latest vaccination to receive EUA. Awarded with EUA approval on February 27, 2020, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine joined the two preceding COVID vaccines in their attempt to eliminate COVID-19.

The limited supply and possible reward of getting vaccinated create an undeniable demand for vaccinations. To combat the overwhelming demand for vaccinations, states individually broke the vaccine rollout into specific stages. These stages prioritized the health of susceptible citizens at risk for COVID-19, and frontline workers including healthcare personnel and teachers. Georgia teachers became eligible for receiving vaccinations on March 8th, 2021. While this eligibility thrilled numerous teachers, others remained skeptical. Multiple teachers express a common fear of the lack of long-term research surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. 

“I don’t think there should be any controversy surrounding vaccinations. There is a lot of science behind it and lots [of]trials have been performed successfully. I am not afraid of injections, sometimes my arm hurts, but it is better than getting COVID-19,” NC English teacher Cathie Lawson said.

In an effort to quickly vaccinate CCSD teachers, the county devised a plan to reallocate specific days and times for their beloved teachers to receive desired vaccinations. Typically, Wednesdays serve as instructional support days in CCSD. On Wednesdays, students work asynchronously and attend optional virtual office hours. To prioritize the health of teachers, CCSD revoked four of the remaining Wednesday instructional support days, changing them to the corresponding Fridays. 

On each of these Fridays: March 19 and March 26, teachers can drive to Jim R. Miller park’s drive-thru mass vaccination site to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The drive-thru vaccination site welcomes CCSD staff members from 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM on these noted Fridays and succeeding Saturdays. Since 2 out of 3 COVID-19 vaccines require two doses, CCSD set aside two dates for teachers to receive their second vaccines in April. On Friday, April 16, Saturday, April 17, Friday, April 23, and Saturday, April 24, volunteers will administer second vaccines to fully vaccinate CCSD teachers. 

Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination may inspire numerous side effects including chills, fatigue, fever, or nausea. Vaccinating teachers at the beginning of a weekend provides teachers with ample time to fully recover from their vaccinations before returning to their classrooms on Monday.

The first set of mass vaccinations on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20, proved extremely successful. Vaccinators strive to vaccinate 300 teachers each hour, capping off at 25,000 administered vaccines each day. CCSD school nurses worked alongside public health officials to help turn this goal into a reality.

“I think mass vaccination is smart. Although we have come to love our Wednesdays off, they really aren’t as necessary as they were in the beginning of the semester. This new schedule overcomes many linguistic complications and allows teachers to receive vaccines,” Lawson said.