ELIDA — Immunizations are underway in Allen County schools to protect teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other essential K-12 employees from contracting COVID-19 so schools can remain open, as Ohio’s Phase 1B vaccination effort continues to expand.
Allen County was one of the first counties in Ohio chosen to hold K-12 immunization clinics, which started in Allen East and Spencerville schools on Monday and will continue through next week.
The immunization effort comes as a relief for many K-12 workers, who have risked their health since last August to ensure students could return to the classroom while many schools across the U.S. remained virtual.
“To me, that says a lot about our staff putting their health and safety out there for our students, doing the right thing to get kids in school,” Elida schools Superintendent Joel Mengerink said. “This is, I don’t want to say it’s a reward, but it’s a little something to give them for doing that on a daily basis.”
Mengerink said 170 Elida schools staff members, or about 60% of district staff, were registered to receive their shot Tuesday, a significant increase from the 35 who expressed an interest when Mengerink first surveyed employees weeks ago.
Allen County Public Health received roughly 1,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine that will be administered to K-12 employees across the county over the next two weeks.
K-12 employees were the only essential workers included in Ohio’s 1B vaccination rollout, which is focusing primarily on elderly populations at highest risk for death or hospitalization from COVID-19, so more schools would resume in-person instruction.
The process will take weeks, as supplies of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are still limited.
Putnam County schools will begin vaccine clinics next week, while Auglaize County schools won’t start administering shots until the week of Feb. 22, according to the Ohio Department of Health.