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When it comes to priority in getting vaccinated, teachers are relatively high on the list. According to Montgomery County’s COVID-19 information website, teachers in Montgomery County are priority group 1B, Tier 2, putting them right after seniors, healthcare workers and essential workers in terms of vaccine priority. However, it has been unexpectedly difficult for them to receive the vaccine.
“I mined CVS, Safeway, Giant, Walgreens for weeks, but they would all say ‘there are no appointments available’,” WCHS teacher Sara Nemati said. “I joined a Facebook group that gave tips on how to get the vaccination. I kept hearing about bogus links and I wasn’t sure what was a trustworthy source.”
Lallitha John, a WCHS social studies teacher, also had difficulties securing a vaccine appointment.
“To register for an appointment, you have to be on several devices and sometimes several sites,” John said. “You have to keep refreshing and hope that by the time you fill out the online registration, all appointment times haven’t been taken up.”
Fortunately, John has now received her first vaccine dose. However, she still remembers how stressful and time consuming the registration process was.
“I would look [at the registration site] multiple times a day, while still trying to plan and teach, and take care of my family,” John said. “The faster you can get on the site, the more chance you have of getting an appointment, but it’s all a race to get it.”
Fortunately, there have been positives during the vaccination process.
“The one positive light is that teachers have been helping other teachers find appointments and have taken it upon themselves to give them ‘leads’ even if they have already been vaccinated,” Nemati said. “After a few tips from colleagues, I was able to procure a CVS appointment.”
However, because of how hard it has been to receive a vaccine, many teachers worry that they won’t be vaccinated when school reopens in March.
“I’m glad I will be fully vaccinated by the time we go back, but that is not the case for everyone,” John said. “When we return to the building, we can pose a risk to our family members and possibly students if we are not vaccinated.”
Nemati worries especially about students and teachers who are in the “at risk” category, and may be at risk of developing more serious COVID symptoms if infected.
“I understand that many teachers and students could get the coronavirus and only suffer mild symptoms, but that is certainly not true of all students and teachers regardless of age or health,” Nemati said. “Some have disabilities, some teachers are caretakers, and for them this is a very scary and uncertain time. Of course, we look forward to seeing our students face-to-face and we’ve certainly missed them, but the preventable loss of any life is important.”