CaroMont Health launches three-day mass vaccine event for educators, childcare workers

First vaccine doses given to educators in Gaston County

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Lesson plans aren’t the only thing Gaston County teachers will be returning to the classroom with on Monday.

CaroMont Health, along with the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services, kicked off its three-day mass vaccine event for teachers, childcare workers, and other school staff on Wednesday.

They had requested 4,000 doses of the vaccine for a mass vaccine event which was delayed due to winter weather, but that delay became a brighter opportunity for teachers and childcare workers.

“This is a great example of a community coming together,” said Gaston County Schools Superintendent Jeff Booker. “We’re fortunate to have a community-based hospital that said ‘we need to meet this need’ and to your point about us starting Monday, they’ve worked really hard to make sure we had the vaccine prior to Monday to give teachers that added security.”

Hundreds of Gaston County K-5 teachers, other school personnel, and students will be returning to their respective schools Monday, four days a week under Plan A.

Gaston County NCAE President and Page Primary School first-grade teacher Pam Miller says getting the vaccine was a positive experience, but wishes she it would’ve happened sooner for student-facing staff.

“Of course we would’ve preferred that it happened before students came in despite what CDC guidelines are. It’s a little different when you’re the one that’s in the classroom, or you’re the one that’s driving the bus, or you’re the one that’s cleaning the school,” Miller said.

Lingerfeldt Elementary School teacher assistant Lisa Byrd says she’s excited to get back to seeing her students in person, but not without her vaccine.

“When they told us we were going to come back four days a week I told my principal I want my shot,” Byrd said.

Both educators say that it’s still important to practice COVID-19 safety precautions for everyone’s health and safety.

“We’ll still be doing our masks and our hand washing and our table washing to keep everybody safe like we were before,” Byrd said.

Superintendent Booker says health and safety remain their top priorities and they’ve got plans in place to maintain a safe environment.

“Our number one priority has been to educate our students but right behind that is to support our teachers and make them feel safe,” Booker said.

At the end of the day, Miller says getting the vaccine isn’t just added protection for herself, but others too.

“Joy knowing it was another layer of protection for my coworkers, for my students, and for myself, and my family,” Miller said.

Vaccine appointments are scheduled for Thursday and Friday. CaroMont Health is still giving the vaccine to people in Groups 1 and 2 during this time.

CaroMont Health’s goal is to give 3,800 first doses and 1,500-second doses during this three-day event.

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