By Cassandra Castillo, Assistant Features Editor—
As student teacher residents and childcare workers have continued their work at K-12 schools across Hamilton County during the pandemic, the demographic has been selected to receive the Covid-19 vaccine early.
As of Feb. 22, Tennessee’s educators and child care staff are eligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the 1b vaccine phase alongside people 65 and older and first responders that were not included in Phase 1a1. Phase 1b also includes all Residency I and II students in education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
UTC’s Clinical Experience Coordinator Christopher Brown said that Residency I and II students have been mirroring the district they are placed in for student teaching. If the district is virtual, they are virtual, and vise-versa.
Hamilton County Schools (HCS) worked with UTC and the Hamilton County Health Department to provide documentation to residency students, according to Brown. They have been able to get vaccinated through the local health departments or other entities such as Walmart, Clinica Medico, or One-to-One Health.
One-to-One Health recently partnered with Hamilton County and has held two vaccination events so far. The first took place Feb. 27 and the second March 6. The first event vaccinated 1,168 employees for their first dose. They have been open to HCS employees and contractors, including bus drivers, substitutes, childcare staff and custodians.
Those who received the vaccine should expect an email for their second dose.
Many university students also work in the School Age Child Care (SACC) program for Hamilton County, which makes them eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Those that have already received their dose credited the county for its quick response and efficiency in delivering the vaccine. UTC freshman and education major Zach Thompson is one of the lucky students employed by SACC.
“Hamilton County did an outstanding job administering the vaccine,” Thompson said. “I arrived, got the vaccine in 20 minutes total. This includes a 15-minute period they asked me to wait after I took the vaccine.I think everyone should get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them. I cannot stop thinking about a pre-Covid world and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Although they are free and accessible to school employees, some students believe it is still fairly new and prefer to wait for more results seeing that it is still not FDA approved.
UTC junior Ally Davis also works for SACC.
“I don’t completely trust it,” she said. “A lot of people feel that way just because the government has used it against black people in the past. I may get it in the future and not right now, when I know it’s safer.”
As more vaccines become available, the number of people who are eligible continues to increase, and understanding of what side-effects may occur becomes easier. After vaccination, check-ins help distinguish side-effects for the Center of Disease Control.
Tennessee announced that people in Phase 1c have the vaccine available as of March 8. This includes people 55 and older, anyone over 16 with a high-risk health condition and caregivers to children at high-risk.
Currently, people that are not Hamilton County School employees and are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine can receive it at the CARTA Bus Barn, Tennessee Riverpark or Enterprise South Nature Park after creating an appointment. Local pharmacies and health clinics also carry the vaccine.
To schedule an appointment or for more information on Covid-19 vaccinations click here.