Teacher vaccination clinics turn celebratory

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 6:29 PM EST
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JERICHO, Vt. (WCAX) - Several Vermont schools this week transformed their gyms and auditoriums into vaccination clinics as part of the statewide effort to vaccinate teachers and child care providers.

Upwards of 800 educators were on the books to receive their one and only dose of the Johnson & johnson Vaccine Friday at Mount Mansfield Union High School in Jericho. Teachers we spoke to were walking out the door with a spring in their step.

“I feel so awesome. Pretty ready to take on the world,” said Lila Frank, a 3rd-grade teacher at Jericho Elementary School.

“I’m pumped!” said Rachel Elliott, a health teacher at Camels Hump Middle School.

“I feel great!” added Lorraine Rigutto, a special educator at the school. “I’m really happy that we did it.”

“I’m pretty darn excited,” admitted MMU Principal Mike Weston.

It’s a day these educators say all agree was long overdue. “We’ve all been waiting for this and wanting it, so as soon as we were eligible, we were ready to go,” Elliott said.

“We’re just really glad the opportunity is finally here,” said Elena Lloyd, a fifth-grade teacher at Camels Hump.

“Here we are now, so no looking back!” said Frank.

Emily Lee, a special ed teacher at Jericho Elementary School, was among those that say for the first time in a year they’ll feel comfortable and confident in their classrooms.

Reporter Christina Guessferd: What’s a word you’d use to describe the atmosphere?

Emily Lee: I would think that there’s a huge sense of relief and also a sense of joy... it’ll just be an easier walk down the hall -- feel like great, I’m going in, but I’m safe, and I know the other teacher is safe.

To many, the event felt more like a celebration. “When we told the students we were getting the vaccinations, they were cheering. So, I think that says it all. They want to be back at school as much as we want to be there teaching them,” said Devena Fifield, who works with the music program at MMU.

Walgreens pharmacists ran the operation inside MMU. The school was one of six that hosted vaccination sites strictly for educators this week. State officials say there have been no school-based clinic cancellations so far. With a limited supply of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, educators are also receiving the two-dose Pfizer shots, extra supply from the long-term care facility rollout.

“Everyone knows schools have been suffering because of COVID, and this is how we’re going to come out the other end. So, when the state said we get the magic ticket right now, then we have to take it, and whenever the next person gets it, they have to. That’s how we get out,” Weston said.

Teachers we spoke to said they’re grateful they get this experience as a community. “We’re all able to be in it together, which was nice,” Lloyd said.

“It was really wonderful to see teachers we maybe haven’t seen in over a year,” Lee said.

“Some of my co-workers are my very best friends, and it’s been so sad not to be able to go see them on the weekends and after school,” Frank said.

Next week, educators are getting vaccinated at the following school-based clinics:

  • St. Johnsbury Academy (St. Johnsbury)
  • Middlebury Union High School (Addison Central SD – Middlebury)
  • Champlain Valley Union High School (Champlain Valley SD – Hinesburg)
  • Brattleboro High School (Windham Southeast SU – Brattleboro)
  • Lake Region High School (Orleans Central SU – Hyde Park)

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