Teachers feel ‘peace of mind’ after Georgia expands vaccine rollout

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 6:29 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The vaccine rollout is getting bigger, and that means a lot more people will try to get the shot.

Right now, about 2 million people in Georgia are eligible for the vaccine. But on March 8, more people in Georgia will be eligible to sign up and that includes teachers.

Gov. Brian Kemp hopes adding school employees to the mix will mean all schools will transition back to in-person learning five days per week.

But he still does acknowledge, just like we saw in the first rollout, demand will exceed the supply.

But for teachers, going to work and taking precautions has an added layer.

“I have not been inside anywhere to shop since the summer. I have been doing extreme social distancing because I felt like the only way I could afford to take risk was inside the school,” Margaret Strickland, head of Westabou Montessori School, said.

“Even though we’re putting as many safeguards as possible in, we know that the risk is there every day,” said Teacher Amanda Stevens

So, imagine the relief people like these two felt when the governor announced their time had come.

“My husband told me yesterday, ‘Hey, did you see this?’ and I was literally online at 11:59 last night looking to see ‘Is it up yet? Is it up yet?” Strickland said. “I signed up immediately this morning.”

Strickland says she’s encouraging her teachers to sign up for vaccines through whatever providers they can.

But for larger school districts and institutions, Augusta University says they’re stepping in to help get employees vaccinated.

They say it’s too soon to announce any official plans, but Columbia County schools say 1,750 of their employees have already expressed interest in getting vaccinated.

Richmond County says the results of their vaccination survey will be ready by Monday.

But across the state, this announcement giving teachers comfort they’ve been fighting for, for weeks.

“I think that allowing us the peace of mind of knowing that it likely will not be a deadly risk is very helpful,” Stevens said.

And it’s another step toward stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Kemp says the reason vaccinations for teachers won’t start until March 8, is to give people aged over 65 and the most vulnerable populations another week to get their shots.

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