By Zach Solon | February 24, 2021 at 2:10 PM EST – Updated February 24 at 11:51 PM
BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Teachers and school employees are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina, and the Bladen County Health Department is wasting no time to get educators their first doses.
“We actually put aside all of our slots for today and tomorrow for school personnel here in the county,” said Dr. Terri Duncan, director of the Bladen County Health Department.
The department opened its doors this morning for 150 appointments reserved for teachers and staff at Bladen County Schools.
A new group of teachers will arrive on Thursday for their first doses, and everyone vaccinated during the two-day event will be given their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
The partnership between the school district and the county health department has been developing for months, and interim superintendent Jason Atkinson is optimistic about what his staff being vaccinated could mean for the future of education.
“I’m looking forward to being able to finish out the academic year as strong as we can despite this pandemic,” said Atkinson.
Bladen County Schools has given parents the option to let their children attend classes in person or learn virtually. Some teachers, like Karrine Foss, have had to adapt and adjust to their new reality.
“It’s different. It’s hard work,” said Foss, “I would rather be in class, but we’re making it through.”
Foss is a kindergarten teacher’s assistant at Elizabethtown Primary School. Since the school district and health department handled all of the necessary paperwork, she had a relatively easy journey to get her vaccine today.
“I walked right across the street, walked in the door, and that was it,” said Foss.
For the county health department, the opportunity to reserve appointments for essential workers and people over 65 has been their focus. Duncan says she has reached out to local groups to schedule appointments for other eligible groups, and will continue to do so as more people become eligible for the vaccine.
“This vaccine provides us another tool in the tool kit,” said Duncan. “We’re fighting the war and we certainly are making progress.”
The partnership will continue tomorrow for another group of teachers, and again next month when those vaccinated this week return for their second doses.
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