Teachers, some students become eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

This+pie+chart+illustrates+the+percent+of+vaccinations+administered+in+Wisconsin+by+manufacturer+as+of+March+26.+

Ainsley Feigles

This pie chart illustrates the percent of vaccinations administered in Wisconsin by manufacturer as of March 26.

On March 1, MTSD employees became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This local availability marks a turning point in the battle against coronavirus as more MTSD staff become vaccinated.

Sarah Zelazoski, executive director of human capital at MTSD, has been instrumental in organizing and communicating this opportunity for teachers.

“From a school district perspective, our role has been to share information about sources of vaccine so employees can access vaccinations based on their personal interest. For the most part, vaccination opportunities involved local health departments and pharmacies. Once the vaccine distribution became more routinized, the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department devoted a section of their website to vaccination sources and we shared that information with our staff members in a number of communications,” Zelazoski said.

There is no requirement that staff members receive the vaccine; they are able to choose whether they wish to be vaccinated. All employees must continue following the safety procedures put in place by the school district, whether they have received the vaccine or not.

Susan Godfrey, PE teacher, opted to receive the vaccine. “I was a little apprehensive to get it but I knew that I had to put my opinion aside because if we want to get back to ‘normalcy’ we have to get people vaccinated. I do believe that schools need to be able to vaccinate their administrators, teachers and essential workers because it reduces the likelihood of their infection, which keeps students safer and if we can keep students safer, it extends to the entire neighborhood and community,” Godfrey said.

An anonymous MTSD teacher also received the vaccine and urges others to do the same. “I think it is important for people throughout the MTSD community to be vaccinated, but I think it is equally important to allow the vaccine the time it needs to slow the spread. We must continue to be responsible; we are so close, yet too many people are acting as if the vaccine is a license to instantly return to normal activities,” he said.

Vaccination eligibility extends beyond just MTSD teachers; other groups have also been presented with the opportunity to receive the vaccine.

“Last week [during the week of March 15], Concordia University Wisconsin offered vaccinations for MTSD employees, and other staff who work in our schools but are not employed by MTSD like bus drivers and food service staff members. We will continue to share information about vaccination opportunities with our staff members. For instance, the City of Mequon is coordinating some upcoming vaccination clinics and that information will be shared with our employees,” Zelazoski said.

Eligible vaccination groups are set to change soon, with the goal of eligibility on May 1 for everyone 16 and older in Wisconsin. This will create an opportunity for more widespread vaccination throughout the MTSD community since this offers vaccination to a much broader population.

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine can be administered to those who are 16 or older. The other two approved vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are only authorized for those 18 or older.

Some MTSD students have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. Though the majority of students are not yet eligible, people who are of the aforementioned ages with a pre-existing medical condition can receive the vaccine. Additionally, people who are of age and are working in certain positions, such as in the food supply chain, are eligible.

An anonymous Homestead senior received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination earlier this month. She shared her experience, claiming that she did not suffer from any major side effects.

“My arm was sore for about three days, but that was the only side effect I experienced,” she said.

Another Homestead senior received her first dose as well. She hopes that others will choose to receive the vaccine when they become eligible. “Vaccination through schools is important because it makes the school safer,” she said.

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