WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. — All Watauga County school staff and teachers will all be able to get their first Modena vaccine shot when Group 3′s eligibility begins next week.
Channel 9′s Dave Faherty learned 90% of the districts teachers have already signed up for the shot.
“I’m elated that the shot is coming. I feel like we’ve been so well cared for here in Watauga County,” French teacher Heather Tedder said.
The county’s teachers will be vaccinated at a mass clinic next Wednesday in Boone and it’s news some said they have been waiting for.
“I was ecstatic. I’m not going to lie I almost burst into tears. It feels like a light that got very much closer to us,” theater teacher Sarah Miller said.
Teachers are part of the North Carolina’s third group of essential workers able to get vaccinated starting Feb. 24.
Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott said he got word from AppHealthCare and the Watauga Medical Center that they could move forward with the vaccine for employees of the school district.
“We didn’t think this was going to happen. We knew there was a shortage of vaccines coming into North Carolina and really across the state so we knew we needed to be patient,” Elliot said.
According to Elliott, Watauga County has done a great job administering all the vaccine it has received and because of that the state is supplying the county with enough for the teachers.
He said they were able to secure more doses after the weather this week delayed an event where 3,000 people were suppose to be vaccinated. All of the school nurses and the health department will help with the vaccinations.
“I think that’s really a great starting point to protect our teachers,” school nurse Shelly Klutz.
The district could decide next week whether or not to start allowing more students to return to the classroom and providing the vaccine could factor in that decision.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers ages 65 and older have already received their first dose. CMS has been returning students to the classroom in phases.
Retail and grocery store workers, who are around hundreds to thousands of shoppers every day, are now asking if they should be given priority over other essential workers for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Starting Feb. 24, vaccinations for frontline workers will begin with teachers, daycare workers and other school staff. Other essential workers won’t be eligible until March 10.
Peyton Casale has seen retail workers sacrifice their own health and safety during the pandemic. Now, she says they should be given priority when it comes to getting the vaccine.
“I think that they do see a lot of people a day, and a lot of people come in without their mask, and their mask doesn’t cover their nose,” she said.
It’s something North Carolina lawmaker Wayne Sasser supports.
“They’ve been working everyday of this pandemic. They’ve not had the opportunity to work from home, or do Zoom, or do all the stuff we’ve learned to do every day, and I think they deserve more consideration for that,” Sasser said.
It’s an issue he says could come up in Raleigh next week, when state health officials start vaccinating essential workers, starting with teachers and school staff.
Unlike teachers, Sasser says retail workers, who work long hours and make very little money, haven’t had many advocates in Raleigh.
“I think these people don’t have the voice of unions and organized groups that scream and holler and get lawmakers’ attention,” Sasser said.
Online retailer Amazon sent the following statement to Channel 9 on Friday: “We’re working closely with policy makers and health authorities around the world to ensure our front-line employees get access at the earliest appropriate time.”
Full statement from the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association: “Retailers that have pharmacies should be able to use their pharmacies to administer vaccines to their employees and also be given an opportunity to partner with local health providers.”
Next week, the FDA could finish its review of the Johnson &and Johnson vaccine. If it’s approved, that could drastically increase supply and could eliminate the need for prioritizing groups.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
© 2021 Cox Media Group