JANESVILLE, Wis.— Hundreds of teachers were vaccinated Friday, in one of Wisconsin’s first mass clinics for educators.
Candy Clough taught in the Beloit School District for more than 20 years. She recently came out of retirement to teach online. Rise Virtual Academy typically teaches about 300 students, but with the pandemic, their enrollment is up to 3,000.
“I have this 'teacher' thing,” says Candy Clough. “It’s hard to get rid of, it must be in my blood.”
She just got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.
“My daughter is a cancer survivor, and she's also an RN," says Clough. "And she said, ‘Mom, Dad, as soon as you can go get it. I've seen some things that are really scary.’”
Teachers are in phase 1B of Wisconsin’s vaccination plan. The state disaster medical advisory committee says educators should be prioritized for vaccination if possible.
Students in the Janesville school district got Friday off while hundreds of their teachers got vaccinated at Mercyhealth in Janesville.
Mercyhealth’s plan to vaccinate all these teachers caused a bit of a kerfuffle when it was first announced.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services responded by explaining that teachers weren't eligible to be vaccinated yet, as other priority groups were not finished.
Even though first responders, who are part of the 1B group, can get the shot, not everyone in 1B can quite yet. There are tiers within each phase that determine a set order of who goes when.
Because Mercyhealth and the school district had already made the plans, DHS gave its reluctant stamp of approval.
“The vaccine is effective only when it gets into an individual's arm, the deltoid muscle. It's not effective if it's in my freezer,” says Dan Janczak, Mercyhealth System director of pharmacy.
Mercyhealth has the capacity to vaccinate 800-1,200 people a day. Their goal is to give the shot to as many people as possible, especially teachers.
“I'm seeing the responses from teachers from our healthcare workers. And they're so thankful,” Janczak says. “Really, at times I get emotional.”
Immunizing these teachers won’t just help them; it can help all the kids and families who rely on them too.
“It’s a value to the teachers, for their health, for their safety for the community, and getting the students back into the school districts,” says Janczak. “It's the right thing to do.”