WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - School staff members in Bladen and New Hanover counties will have the opportunity to get a vaccine as soon as they are eligible while those in Brunswick and Pender counties may have to wait a bit longer as officials work out the details.
“They want to be vaccinated so they can feel secure when they’re in their classrooms and so when they’re working with students, they have the protection they need,” said a spokesperson from Pender County Schools. “This is the opportunity for us to work with the health department and give them that chance. We’re very grateful that the governor has bumped school staff members up ahead a little bit in line so that this opportunity is there now.”
Employees of Bladen County Schools will be able to get COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, February 24, the first day they are eligible under the state’s vaccination plan.
The Bladen County Health Department has scheduled vaccine clinics for Bladen County Schools employees Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. Staff will be able to visit the clinic at a pre-scheduled appointment time. School administrators sent out a survey to employees in January to gauge interest in receiving the vaccine. They passed the results on to the health department to be prepared once vaccines were ready and educators became eligible.
“We are extremely grateful to Dr. Terri Duncan and her staff at the health department for their advocacy work in securing the vaccine for Bladen County educators,“ Interim Superintendent Dr. Jason Atkinson of Bladen County Schools said in an email news release. “The safety of our students and our staff is our top priority, and we believe this vaccine is the next step for safety planning.”
According to Brandon Shope, Media Relations Coordinator with New Hanover County Schools, administrators have worked with the county health department and clinics are planned for this Wednesday, February 24; a second date is to be determined for vaccinations. Emails are being sent to employees regarding the plans.
Brunswick County Schools spokesman Daniel Seamans says some clinics are planned for vaccinating school system employees, but details on the number and locations will depend on the amount of vaccine doses available. There is a list of employees who indicated in a survey they want to receive the vaccine when it is available.
Alex Riley of Pender County Schools says employees were asked if they would be interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think everyone was kind of anticipating that announcement when Governor Cooper said it,” said Riley. “We sent out the confirmation email with a Google form that a teacher could fill out and get signed up within a day. Within a couple hours we had a couple hundred responses already.”
Information from those who said they wanted the vaccine has been passed to the Pender County Department of Health and Human Services. Riley says the county DHHS will move to schedule those vaccinations when doses are available.
“Teachers and school staff members aren’t the only folks that they’re vaccinating,” said Riley. “They’re still vaccinating the groups that were ahead of them as well. We know it’s a little bit of a waiting game, but we’re going to wait our turn and make sure that everyone gets a chance to sit down and get vaccinated if they want to.”