By the end of the day Saturday, the majority of Durango School District 9-R’s teachers and staff members had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger said 328 staff members were scheduled to receive the vaccine at a clinic conducted Saturday at Escalante Middle School. Another 168 were scheduled for vaccinations at a clinic happening simultaneously at Durango High School. Another 15 people were on a wait list in case it turned out extra doses were available Saturday.
A team of pharmacists from City Market performed the vaccinations at Escalante while a team from Albertsons did the same at DHS.
About 80 9-R staff members who expressed interest in receiving the vaccine were not able to get it this weekend because they were out of town or had conflicts. Those people and another two who couldn’t receive it because they were in quarantine will be referred to other providers, Snowberger said. Of the about 730 people who work for the school district, 580 expressed interest in receiving the vaccine.
“What we’re hoping to do is set the example for our community because we know there are a lot of people who are hesitant about this, and so we hope our show of interest – and our teachers excited about getting it – is going to lead to the community seeing the value of it when it becomes available,” he said.
Marci Bastin, a teacher at Sunnyside Elementary School, said getting the first dose of the vaccine gave her “a sense of relief. It just feels good to have that first step done. Hopeful.”
She said the clinic and the vaccination were smooth, easy and super-organized.
“It only took a few minutes and wasn’t a big deal at all,” she said.
At Escalante, patients were checked in at the front door before heading to the gymnasium, where they received the vaccination. They were then sent to the cafeteria, where they were monitored for 15 minutes by a registered nurse and two certified nurse assistants or licensed practicing nurses to make sure they didn’t have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
Snowberger said 15 members of 9-R’s staff were working at the Escalante clinic – in addition to a team of five pharmacists, three techs and a manager from City Market.
“The clinic is going great. I think everything is running real smooth,” said City Market’s Jake Decker, a pharmacy practice coordinator from Grand Junction.
The rest of the pharmacists conducting the Escalante clinic were local to the Durango area, he said.
“We had a meeting last Friday and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do a clinic on Saturday,’ and I sent out an APB to the pharmacists and said, ‘This is our opportunity to step up and help the community. Who wants to come?’ It’s a special thing,” he said. “This is what we do every day. It’s kind of a call to action for us, and we’re happy to answer that call for the community.”
Decker said COVID-19 vaccines coming into City Market’s stores are limited. Right now, City Market is immunizing people 65 years or older. The best way to sign up to receive those vaccines is at citymarket.com/covidvaccine, he said. Calling the pharmacy isn’t particularly helpful because appointments are being scheduled online so that the limited supply of doses per vial can be managed.
There’s been a high demand for the vaccine at clinics across the region Decker oversees, he said.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response. ... We’ve had people that are breaking down in tears and they’re just so thankful for us to be able to do this for them,” he said.
A follow-up clinic where 9-R staff members will receive their second doses of the vaccine will be held March 6 at Durango High School.