Jackson County teachers receive first round doses of COVID-19 vaccine

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala.- School staff in Jackson County got a head start on their coronavirus vaccinations despite not technically being eligible until Monday.

The front lobby of Highlands Medical Center was packed with residents, including school employees wanting to get their first round doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Megan Wright, a counselor at Section High and Macedonia School told News 19 that she is excited to be getting her first dose.

“We do virtual learning and traditional learning and between the two schools, I’m roughly into contact with about 300 students,” explained Wright.

She said it has been stressful going to school every day knowing the risk.

“To think about coming to school and possibly getting the virus, and then taking it home to our own family,” added Wright.

That is why she and other educators tell me getting the vaccine is an important step toward safety.

“As educators, we want to go the extra mile to make sure that our kids are well taken care of, not only academic wise but their health and their safety and I think getting this vaccine is a step in the right direction,” said Wright.

“Being exposed every day and being on the frontlines is very important. Also, I drive a school bus and I’m a teacher. I’m exposed to several different school students, and my parents are aging, so I just want to protect them and my loved ones,” said Bridgeport Elementary School teacher Melinda Gilbert.

Highlands Medical Center Director of Marketing Wendi Raeuchle explained to News 19 that interest from those 75 and older and healthcare workers dwindled on Wednesday.

“Considering there were about 4,700 people total in our county in the 75 plus age group, we very well may be reaching all of those who want to get the vaccine,” said Raeuchle.

Raeuchle said the hospital went ahead and began administering the vaccine to those who will be eligible on Monday, which Dr. Scott Harris approves.

“We certainly did not want to waste any of the vaccine, so today we have people who are over the age of 65 and those who are employed by the school systems as well as some that are still in the 75 plus range. So, what we’re trying to do today is to bring those who are 75 and up to the front of the line because they are the priority as well as healthcare workers,” said Raeuchle.

Raeuchle told News 19 that as a parent herself, seeing a large interest from educators is encouraging.

“It will make me feel a lot better knowing that as many school staff members as possible have been vaccinated so that it helps protect the children, it helps protect the teachers, it helps protect my family, it even helps protect my parents who often keep my son on those E-learning days,” added Raeuchle.

Friday was the final clinic for first round doses until the hospital gets another allotment of it.

Marshall Medical Centers are also no longer doing first round doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Physician offices, pharmacies, and local health departments are still administering them, though.

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