LINCOLN — It was Lincoln’s turn last week, as 87 School District employees received the Moderna covid-19 vaccine through Heartland Pharmacy.
Prairie Grove School District had its Pfizer covid-19 vaccination clinic Jan. 23 at Tiger Arena, and Farmington school employees were able to get the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 27 at Cardinal Arena. Collier Drug Stores provided the vaccines for Prairie Grove and Farmington school employees.
Lincoln held its vaccination clinic in its high school commons area. Nursing students with the University of Arkansas assisted with the clinic.
In all, about 420 school employees for the three districts have received the vaccine at the scheduled clinics. Some school employees have decided not to get the shots at this time. Others received shots elsewhere, and any who recently had the new corona-virus have been advised to wait around 90 days before receiving the vaccine.
Emily Robbins, Lincoln High School nurse and the district’s covid-19 point of contact, on Friday said she’s thrilled other school employees are now able to receive the vaccine. Robbins has received both shots and was part of the first group for the vaccine that included healthcare workers and first responders.
“We had 87 signed up and this will help decrease the spread and the transmission (of covid-19),” Robbins said, adding it also will help her job as the point of contact.
Several Lincoln school employees who received the vaccine said they were doing it to help keep older family members safe.
“I did it for my dad and mother-in-law,” said elementary teacher Chrissy Cuzick.
Teresa Crouch, a paraprofessional at the high school, also said she received the shot because she cares for at-risk family members.
“I want to make sure I can still take care of them and be safe,” Crouch said.
Nutrition Director Valerie Dawson said she is planning to go on a cruise in June and one reason she received the vaccine, “I want to go on the cruise.”
Elementary teacher Cassie Glidewell said she wants to be able to spend time with her mom. She’s only seen her if she’s been tested and quarantined beforehand.
Robbins said Lincoln school employees will receive their second Moderna vaccine on March 5.
Prairie Grove Assistant Superintendent David Kellogg, who helped organize Prairie Grove’s clinic, said he was glad school employees were able to get the shot.
“Wow, here in a year, it’s been developed and tested and we got it within the first few days of when it was available to schools,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg, who received the first vaccine, said he’s been cautious trying to take care of himself and others around him the past year.
“I would have trouble convincing myself not to get it,” Kellogg said. “I’m looking forward even more to two weeks after the second shot when I will have a 95% protection rate. That will be even more comforting.”
Just as he has done for many months, Kellogg said he will continue to wear a mask, to socially distance and to leave a room if he needs to cough or sneeze.
Prairie Grove High teacher Rachel Dixon and her husband, the district’s transportation director, both decided to get the vaccine.
“After talking with quite a few medical professionals, both my husband and I felt like the benefits of it outweighed the risks of covid. My hope is that we can get enough people vaccinated that we can develop that herd immunity.”
Dixon said they are both healthy and wanted to help push up the percentage of people getting the vaccination. They will continue to follow the safety guidelines until hopefully a lot of the population is vaccinated.
Dixon has not tested positive for covid-19 and has not had to quarantine. She believes the school year has gone well during the pandemic, with the hardest part keeping track of students going in and out of quarantine.
“Our school nurses deserve a million-dollar raise this year. They’ve kept up with cases, quarantines and contact tracing.”
Kara Gardenhire, principal of Williams Elementary in Farmington, also received the vaccine, but got hers through Walgreens pharmacy, not at the school’s vaccination clinic.
“Covid has been horrible and I’m trusting that the vaccine will help us get back to normal sooner rather than later,” Gardenhire said.
She pointed out that years ago people trusted the first polio and measles vaccines and were willing to take those shots.
Gardenhire said almost all of her staff received the vaccine during Farmington’s clinic. She said it appears to her to be a relief to them because now they have another line of defense.
Gardenhire said she provided her staff with the information about signing up for the covid vaccine but didn’t press anyone to make a decision.
“I feel like it’s their right and their decision,” she said.
The school year has gone well at Williams, and staff and children are following safety guidelines for covid-19 — wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands — Gardenhire said.
“Teachers have jumped right in and are still showing love and care for their students,” Gardenhire.
Students have done well with it, and parents also have done their part, she said, by keeping their children at home if they are sick.
Lisa Turner, a teacher at Farmington Junior High, said she and her doctor believe she had covid-19 in February 2020. She couldn’t get tested then, she said, because tests were only being used on those with certain symptoms. Most of her symptoms were similar to a sinus infection.
“I was pretty miserable,” Turner said.
Turner said her decision to receive the vaccine was an easy one. She said she gets the flu shot every year and thought, “If I do it for the flu, then why not do it for this.”
Turner said she received the vaccination so she can be at school.
“I don’t like to miss school,” Turner said. “I like to be with the kids.”
In addition, her 80-year-old mother lives with her and she wants to protect her mother as well.
Turner’s husband is a veterinarian so she said they’re familiar with vaccine research.
“I do believe the U.S. is the safest when it comes to vaccines and new drugs. I feel we put it through a more rigorous testing cycle. I don’t believe they cut corners,” Turner said.
Lynn Kutter may be reached by email at [email protected] .