Fayette’s school nurses get their Covid vaccinations

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Rising Starr Middle school nurse Tiffany Blair receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccination from a nurse at the Fayette County Health Department. Photo/Fayette County School System.
Rising Starr Middle school nurse Tiffany Blair receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccination from a nurse at the Fayette County Health Department. Photo/Fayette County School System.

School nurses have been key to keeping schools open since the fall and are on the front lines to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Phase 1a of Georgia’s vaccine rollout plan, said a news release from the Fayette County School System.

On January 12, 24 — or 80 percent — of Fayette County Public Schools’ 30 nurses rolled up their sleeves at the Fayette County Health Department to take their first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. School Health Services Coordinator Debbie King was the first nurse to receive the vaccine. As the school nurse coordinator, she said it was her responsibility to set the example for others.

<b>Fayette County Public Schools Health Services Coordinator Debbie King proudly displays her bandage after becoming the first nurse and employee in the school system to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Photo/Fayette School System.</b>
Fayette County Public Schools Health Services Coordinator Debbie King proudly displays her bandage after becoming the first nurse and employee in the school system to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Photo/Fayette School System.

“I was excited to be a part of the first group in our school system to be vaccinated for Covid because it is the first step in ending this virus. As a leader in our school system, I wanted to lead by example. I don’t ask people to do anything that I would not do myself. Since the school nurses are exposed frequently in the clinics, I wanted them to have the extra protection,” says King.

No doubt, getting the vaccine lifts a tremendous weight off the nurses’ shoulders since they are the only trained school personnel to assess students and staff for Covid-19, and if they should fall ill, there are a limited number of substitute nurses in the school system who can fill-in during their absence. The vaccine provides them with the protection they need to continue doing their job, and to keep them, their students, and their families safe, the system said in a news release.

The vaccine would not be possible without the thousands of people who volunteered to participate in clinical vaccination trials, and that selfless act is not lost on King.

“I feel a deep gratitude toward the thousands of people who participated, and those who continue to participate, in vaccine trials. They have risked their health and given their time to provide a measure of certainty to those, like me, who benefit from getting a Covid-19 vaccine.”

Despite getting the vaccine, the school nurses will continue to wear face coverings and take the same precautions as they did before getting vaccinated, but now with an extra feeling of protection.

“Moderna is 94 percent effective after two doses against Covid. Even if a person is fully vaccinated for Covid (receive both doses), they need to continue following the mitigation practices such as wearing a face covering, social distancing, washing hands, and staying home if sick,” explains King.

None of the nurses have experienced any symptoms from the vaccine, and are looking forward to getting their second and final dose in February, according to King.

As the first in their schools to be vaccinated, the nurses hope to lead by example, inspiring fellow employees and others in the community to get vaccinated when their time comes. Other school employees, including K-12 teachers and staff, will be vaccinated in Phase 1b of Georgia’s vaccine rollout. The school system has partnered with the county’s health department to offer the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for free to any employee who wants to get it.

Employees are being surveyed for their interest in receiving the vaccine in order to get an idea of how many doses will be needed. The vaccinations will be given during clinics held in three locations throughout the school system. The date for the clinics has not been determined.

The school system is encouraging its employees and the community to learn more about the vaccine and Georgia’s Covid-19 Vaccine Plan by visiting the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) website or by searching “Georgia Vaccine Plan.” On the GDPH site, visitors can learn about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, and where to get it.