School staffs receive COVID-19 vaccine

More than 500 doses given to Boyle, Danville employees

The Boyle County Health Department provided 270 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for Boyle County Schools staff on Tuesday and 270 for Danville Independent Schools staff Wednesday, said BCHD public health director Brent Blevins.

There were also about 11 to 13 doses provided for Danville Christian Academy staff, several of which were administered on Wednesday, and Kentucky School for the Deaf staff will receive about 46 doses on Monday, Feb. 1, from 2-4 p.m.

Though Blevins said it is ultimately up to school boards on how to pursue learning models going forward — whether virtual, in-person or hybrid — he said he communicates with the school districts about the steps they take, and “My general sense is that yes, this is one of those great steps that will help them to get back to a more consistent, in-person learning setting. And that’s what we’re striving for with that.”

The school staff are expected to have their second doses of the vaccine by the end of February.

Blevins shared the logistics of what it took to bring vaccines to school staff.

He said Steven Stack, commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health, gave school vaccine allocations to county health departments. Health departments in each county could decide whether they could do vaccines for schools themselves or, if the county didn’t have a big enough health department or had another reason for not providing schools with the allocations themselves, they had the option to work with Walgreens or CVS to get the vaccines to schools.

As for how Boyle County handled it, Blevins said since BCHD already does flu and other vaccinations for schools, “it was natural just to jump right in and also do the COVID vaccinations” for schools. However, they were dealing with a large number of doses for each school district.

Blevins got the notification that doses were coming in over the weekend, received them on Monday and planned with contacts at the schools on how to provide the doses to the number of people needed. The schools also offered the help of their own staff, including some who screened people coming in for vaccines to make sure they were school staff and that they had forms filled out, and some who were school nurses who monitored people who had just received their vaccines to make sure there were no negative physical reactions to the vaccinations. On Wednesday morning within about a four-hour time period, there were about 245 people who received vaccines, which Blevins said was a lot of people to run through and watch in that time frame, so having school staff there to assist was helpful.

“I’m very thankful, I’ll tell you, for all of our school systems,” Blevins said. “We all work very well together, and it’s a great partnership.”

In the community so far, the health department has been able to provide about 1,200 COVID-19 vaccines, Blevins said. This includes staff at Northpoint Training Center, non-Ephraim McDowell Health affiliated health care workers (since EMH gave vaccines within its own agency), first responders, some second doses it’s done so far and now staff at schools. EMH also assisted BCHD by providing them with about 150 doses to give to agencies.

“I’m happy to do what we’ve done,” Blevins said. “I’m glad — I am really glad we’ve been able to do this, and I’m really glad we’re being able to finish up the schools right now. I think that gives them some hope now in looking down the road at getting back in person.”