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October 28, 2021

Internet Business Newswire

Global Business News

Teachers pack vaccine station on first day of eligibility

Tinika Hagler closed her eyes as a nurse injected the 46-year-old elementary school teacher with the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday morning at a bustling vaccine station in Chula Vista.

“I’m super excited,” Hagler said, as the needle disappeared into her arm. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get back with the kids. This is something that’s really important to me.”

She was among hundreds of San Diegans who flocked to the Sharp HealthCare station and other locations throughout the county to take advantage of their newly eligible status, which kicked in Saturday.

In Chula Vista, people waited patiently under shade structures in the parking lot of a former Sears building on Broadway. Inside, pop music played while smiling healthcare workers shepherded people through the process of getting inoculated.

Hundreds gathered at the Sharp HealthCare vaccination superstation on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Hundreds gathered at the Sharp HealthCare vaccination superstation in Chula Vista Center at 565 Broadway on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

(Joshua Emerson Smith/The San Diego Union-Tribune )

More than half a million San Diegans are included in this newly authorized group, including those who work in law enforcement and other emergency services, agriculture, food handling, childcare and education.

Sharp HealthCare officials said they anticipate inoculating about 1,500 education workers through Sunday.

For months, working parents have been pleading with government officials for relief as they juggled their professional lives while overseeing their children’s distance learning.

The burden has been particularly hard for single parents and those who cannot afford childcare. Many education experts fear that low-income students in particular could face adverse impacts for years to come.

Jillian Salazar, who teaches kindergarten at Tierrasanta Elementary School, said she recently returned to the classroom to conduct her remote learning, but she hopes her students can join her there soon.

“The teachers that I know have been eager to get back into the classroom,” said the 32-year-old after receiving her first dose of the vaccine on Saturday. “It’s one thing to be on the camera. But it’s not as effective as being in the classroom.”

Employees of K-12 schools with plans to reopen are being prioritized, with those working in the hardest hit areas topping the list. School districts are coordinating appointments for teachers and staff, with more information available at vebavaccinates.com.

Many schools now appear poised to significantly expand in-person education within weeks. Poway Unified School District, for example, said it’s been cleared by the county to resume on-campus classes two days a week at middle and high schools starting March 15.

Farm workers at the Carlsbad Strawberry Farm wait their turn to receive Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

Farm workers at the Carlsbad Strawberry Farm wait their turn to receive Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from Cal Fire and other county fire agencies on Saturday.

(Charlie Neuman/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego Unified School District is aiming to reopen in-person classes on April 12, officials have said. Students will have the option to continue distance learning. Some schools have already been allowed to resume in-person learning with very limited class sizes.

Jamie Palomares, who’s taught preschool in person since September at Meridian Elementary School in El Cajon, rejoiced after receiving her first shot.

“It’s been a little nerve-wracking working in the classroom,” said the 35-year-old. “Now I feel very confident and excited.”

It’s unclear whether loosening the criteria around vaccination will put significant strain on an already spotty supply. The vaccine station near Petco Park was closed again on Saturday and could stay that way through Tuesday due to a shortage of doses, according to county officials.

However, Johnson & Johnson received approval Saturday to distribute its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. Millions of doses are expected to hit American cities within days.

The 65-and-up crowd, which was previously authorized, still has “plenty of opportunity” to get vaccinated, said Jim Nuckols, chief marketing officer for Sharp HealthCare.

“It’s a balance,” he said. “To get the kids back in school, it’s so crucial to get the teachers.”

Scripps Health is administering vaccines for law enforcement, while firefighters are helping to get farm workers immunized.

Farm worker Federico Robles gets a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Cal Fire

Farm worker Federico Robles gets a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Cal Fire engineer/paramedic Jon Gerstenberg at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company farm on Saturday.

(Charlie Neuman/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Cal Fire officials and elected leaders gathered at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company on Saturday morning to oversee the first group of farm workers in the county to receive the vaccine. About 50 workers were inoculated. Firefighters plan to inoculate hundreds of agricultural workers in coming days and weeks.

While not all residents 65 and older have been vaccinated yet, many appear to be in support of the expanded criteria.

“I’m glad they’re going to do it for the educators because I’ve got great-grandkids that are driving their mothers crazy being at home,” said Colleen Sutton, 84, of Alpine, who received her second shot Saturday in Chula Vista.

The expanded effort comes as the number of positive coronavirus cases continues to taper off in the county since the surge in December and January, with 450 new cases reported Saturday, bringing the total to 260,094.

The death toll now stands at 3,284.

COVID-19 patients at local hospitals totaled 549, with 175 people in intensive care, according to the most recent data. That’s down from 1,408 hospitalizations and 408 in intensive care just a month ago.