On March 8, access to three available COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson) expanded in Georgia, to include teachers and school district employees. In response Bulloch County Schools is partnering with the Bulloch County Health Department and other local providers to host voluntary, dedicated vaccination clinics for its employees for free.
The first two clinics are drive-through events on March 12 and March 19, from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., at the Health Department, located at 1 West Altman Street in Statesboro. A third clinic is tentatively scheduled for March 26. All participants will receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
All school district employees, substitutes, and other temporary employees, who are interested in receiving the vaccine are eligible to participate. The school district’s clinics also extend to the faculty and staff of Cedarwood, which is a Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support alternative education center that serves students from Bulloch, Jenkins, and Evans counties.
These initial clinics are in addition to employees’ independent choices of multiple local and area providers. The school district is planning additional clinics based on employee demand for the vaccine. Some employees have also already been vaccinated due to earlier eligibility.
An appointment is required to receive a vaccine. Bulloch County Schools is providing all employees with an online link via both their school district email account and website to schedule their preferred day and time to receive a vaccine at one of the two clinics.
If an employee is already on a waiting list to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from another local or area provider, they may honor those appointments. They do not have to participate in the school district’s clinics.
Each of Bulloch County Schools’ clinics will be able to accommodate up to 200 employees, for a total of 400 employees for the first two clinics. The school district is purposefully spacing out these and future clinics and scheduling them on Fridays, to allow employees a rest period after the vaccine in case they experience any side effects. A mass event for all employees at once is not feasible due to the possibility of mass employee absences if side effects occur and a resulting disruption to school operations.
The initial clinics are made possible through the school district’s partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Southeast Health District Department of Public Health and the Bulloch County Health Department. An initial supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, reserved just for our employees, arrived on March 5 at our local health department. According to medical professionals the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may provide immunity within two weeks of vaccination, compared to the six-weeks to immunity with other vaccines.
“While there is no requirement for school district employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it is one more important way that we can help keep them safe, mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and help prevent possible quarantines if they are directly exposed to someone with the virus,” said Charles Wilson, superintendent of schools.
The school district has provided employees information from the Georgia Department of Public Health that explains the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, guidelines about how those who are vaccinated can prevent quarantine based on certain criteria, and a consent form that must be signed and brought with them to their appointment. The Centers for Disease Control’s website has also been referenced to employees as a credible source for information and frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“School districts across the state have been asked to work with their local healthcare providers to organize clinics for educators,” said Wilson. “Each district will be unique in how they work with their local partners to host clinics, so while you may see or hear details about other school districts’ clinics, please note that each is organized to best fit their local needs and there will be similarities and differences. What is important is to know what we are doing in Bulloch County.”