Three hundred teachers from nine school districts and one BOCES school were vaccinated last Friday at a central site in Saratoga, and it was their own school nurses who administered the shots to protect them from COVID-19.
Mirna Caro, Saratoga Adirondack BOCES Educators Association school nurse, sorted needles on trays as she prepared to start vaccinating teachers. Caro said she has given vaccinations in prior jobs in long-term care facilities, hospitals, and in an allergy office.
“The shot has to go into the deltoid muscle,” Caro said. “Some people are nervous, some are really scared; most people are happy and grateful.”
Each of the school nurses administering the vaccines were given a four-hour training by the Saratoga County Department of Health.
Friday’s event was the second event for this grouping of schools. Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Mechanicville, Ballston Spa, South Glens Falls, Galway, Corinth, Edinburgh, Saratoga Springs and Saratoga BOCES were each allowed to send 30 educators for the vaccination. In the first round held previously, each school sent 15 teachers. Those teachers will get their second dose on Feb. 26.
Galway school nurse Sue Horne said people who received the vaccine in the first round approached her in school on the next work day, telling her they were grateful to see a familiar face administering the dose into their arm.
“This is a comfort,” she said.
As teachers began approaching the screened-off section belonging to their particular school district, each was asked for their name, date of birth and about any known allergies. Screening and consent forms were handed out. After receiving the shot, they sat in a separate waiting area for 15 minutes; or 30 minutes if they had known allergies.
“I’m super excited,” said Susan Kinne, a member of the Galway Teachers Association who is a family and consumer science teacher for grades 6-12. Because she works in a classroom — for her, a cooking room — and is exposed to many children, she has been nervous about seeing her mother. Her mom is the sole caregiver for her dad, who has dementia.
“I don’t want to pass it (the virus) on to them, or to my students,” Kinne said.
“This is good. For us to be able to get back to some kind of normalcy is everything,” said Bruce Hoffman, president of the Saratoga Adirondack BOCES Educators Association and a student work placement coordinator.
By being able to access a group vaccine, teachers did not have to sit on computers for hours on end or wait on phones for lengthy times in order to try to schedule a vaccination. As educators, they work in classrooms and school buildings with exposure to many students.
Superintendent Jim Dexter helped put the plan in place after he conducted a survey that revealed the need and desire for a large-scale vaccination.
April Park, one of the many CSEA-represented school nurses at the vaccination site, said she is happy to be able to help her Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake colleagues.
“It’s something I can do to contribute and to help fight COVID,” she said.