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COVID-19 vaccinations for Guilford County school and day care workers begin Thursday
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COVID-19 vaccinations for Guilford County school and day care workers begin Thursday

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GREENSBORO — Guilford County hopes to vaccinate at least 80% of people employed in local child care or in preK–12 schools against COVID-19 in the next two weeks, health officials said Tuesday.

That amounts to about 12,000 of the 15,000 people eligible in this latest group if the county is able to secure enough vaccine and enough workers are willing to sign up to get the shots.

“(We) hope that in the next two weeks we'll be able to meet that goal or get to that number as fast as possible in order for us to prepare for the next groups that will become eligible on March 10,” Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann said.

The county health department is devoting 100% of its vaccine allocation this week and next week to child care and school employees — including those at private schools — as Guilford County Schools begins opening up more in-person classes. Teachers (including substitutes), janitors, bus drivers and other support staff are eligible.

At the county’s three existing clinic locations, Vann said she expects 4,680 of workers will get their first vaccinations on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Cone Health will also help with the clinic on Saturday, using vaccine allocated to the county.

The county sent a link to school and child care employers Saturday morning for their employees to set up vaccination appointments. The number of appointments allocated per employer was weighted according to the number of employees, Campbell said.

Vann said it is up to individual employers to prioritize which workers will get the shot first, although the health department was providing guidance on this decision.

The workers do not have to be residents of Guilford County, but do have to be employed at a Guilford County site, according to Don Campbell, director of Guilford County Emergency Services

“We know many of our educators here in Guilford County live in surrounding counties, and vice versa,” he said. “This process is to ensure that the schools and Guilford County have those dedicated (shots).”

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County health officials won’t find out until late Thursday or early Friday how many doses of the vaccine Guilford will receive from the state for next week, Vann said.

Scheduling for those vaccinations will take place this weekend, Campbell said. After that, Vann said school and day care workers would be scheduled along with other essential workers — the remainder of Group Three — who are eligible March 10. That includes workers at universities, grocery stores, pharmacies, meat packing plants, veterinarians and others. 

People whose vaccinations were postponed because of the recent ice storms, as well as those ready for their second dose of vaccine, will remain on the schedule, Campbell said.

He said there were only a few appointments left this week, which were dedicated to child care workers, and Campbell expected those to fill up by Tuesday afternoon.

Guilford County Schools said in a news release that it expected about 3,000 of its 10,000 workers to get vaccinated this week. It scheduled a remote-only, non-live teaching day on Friday to allow its employees the opportunity to get the shots. Students are still expected to login and complete assignments that day.

School officials were not sure if they would schedule another remote-only, non-live teaching day on March 5.

The school district has given employees who work with exceptional children, many of whom cannot wear masks properly, priority in scheduling. After that, workers aged 51 to 64 can sign up, then those 36 to 50, and lastly 18- to 35-year-olds.

Meanwhile, Cone Health is using its own supply to continue vaccinating health care workers and people 65 and older at clinics on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, according to Deborah Grant, Cone Health’s chief nursing officer and vice president of ambulatory and clinical nursing services.

This week, the hospital system received 6,550 first doses of the vaccine, of which 5,380 will be administered at the Greensboro Coliseum and Burlington Manufacturer’s Outlet Center. The remaining doses will go to minority communities, according to a statement from Cone Health.

It also will administer 300 vaccinations to health care workers and people 65 and older at N.C. A&T Wednesday. Some of that vaccine was provided through the university’s allotment.

Through Feb. 18, Cone Health has provided a total of 47,155 first- and second-dose vaccinations. Of those, 33% went to health care workers and 67% went to people 65 and older.

Guilford County health officials were unable to provide similar statistics to the News & Record on Tuesday, by said they hoped to have them available Wednesday.

Contact Kenwyn Caranna at 336-373-7082 and follow @kcaranna on Twitter.

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