SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Governor Kemp’s announcement to expand the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility has several public health and school leaders rushing to make plans.
Savannah-Chatham County School System is the state’s 10th largest school district. They are excited to be able to work towards vaccinating their 5,600 employees.
“To open it up to the staff and the educators of our school district is a wonderful thing,” said Kurt Hetager, SCCPSS Chief Public Affairs Officer. “It’s a great thing for us and it also is a signal that as we continue to get vaccinations done and add to the safety and security that we’re taking steps further to get back to a sense of normalcy in the way that education is offered for the students and the families of our county.”
Starting March 8th all school staff in the peach state will be eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccination. While it’s unknown exactly how many people qualify for this expanded phase in the Coastal Health District, Dr. Lawton Davis knows it’s a lot and the rollout will depend on vaccine supply which we should see increase.
“It is anticipated that we will see an increase in both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Director of the Coastal Health District. “And it is also anticipated that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will receive approval of it’s emergency use authorization application today (Friday.)”
He says if that happens they could see shipment by next week. He feels they are prepared especially knowing the Savannah- Chatham school nurses have already received training and work experience.
“We’ve had a multi-layer of training that we’ve been working on at this point and we’ve also been deployed into the community already,” said Lisa Wilson, SCCPSS District Nursing Administrator. “We’ve had ten teams go to three different community partners to give vaccines and collectively we have assisted in the vaccination of over 2396 people.”
So far about 500 SCCPSS staff have been vaccinated in phase 1A plus, but a district survey shows nearly 50% of those who responded will get their shot. With that in mind, they are working with partners to plan evening and weekend clinics for about 3,000 people.
“We’ve already created an effective framework for bringing employees in, getting them registered, getting them set up to receive the vaccine which we’re going to duplicate on a much larger scale now with this announcement,” said Hetager.
District officials say they have the communication ready, nurses on standby and building space. They are eager to serve their staff as vaccine supply allows.
“One thing we will not do is we will not put a specific department or school above any other,” explained Kurt Hetager, Chief Public Affairs Officer. “Our job and our goal as an agency who has a major large workforce is to provide as many options and opportunities available so they can make educated choices about signing up to receive the vaccination at their own decision.”
While no clinic dates have been announced yet for school staff, leaders say they are close and will notify staff though they are free to get a shot at other providers.