vaccines

‘I'm Just Thankful': San Diego County Teachers Line Up for COVID-19 Vaccines

Now that educators are eligible to begin receiving vaccinations, hundreds of teachers lined up at Sharp Healthcare vaccination super centers in Chula Vista and Grossmont Center to receive their first shots

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That vaccine eligibility expansion is promising news as hundreds of educators took a very important step today toward getting back into the classroom. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda spoke to some of the first teachers to receive a vaccine, now that they’re eligible.

Fifteen-hundred weekend appointments were made available at Sharp Healthcare Super Centers across San Diego County for educators.

Now that educators are eligible to begin receiving vaccinations, hundreds of teachers lined up at Sharp Healthcare vaccination super centers in Chula Vista and Grossmont Center to receive their first shots.

On Saturday, 500 appointments were made available at each location. On Sunday, 250 appointments have been made available at each location.

While, it’s a good start, it represents just a fraction of the 80,000 education employees in the county of San Diego.

Among the first teachers in line in Chula Vista on Saturday was Joycelyn Hewitt-Murdolo, 27.

“I’m super excited, I haven’t seen my students since March of last year, and I’m hoping that I’m able to get vaccinated so we can open our schools up and I can see my babies again,” said Hewitt-Murdolo.

Hewitt-Murdolo is a seventh grade math and science teacher at King Chavez Preparatory Academy. Classroom safety has been a top priority for her personally, since she lives with an auto-immune disease.

“It feels like an extra layer of protection, like a shield that is going to help strengthen me, so that I can get back to doing what I love,” said Hewitt-Murdolo.

Educators are being notified by email through the California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association (VEBA).

“We ask for patience as we roll out as quickly as possible to as many communities as possible,” said VEBA representative Laura Josh.

VEBA has so far sent vaccination invitations to about 14,000 educators in San Diego County. At-risk communities will get priority.

“I work in a low-income community that I love and the kids are happy to be in school, always willing to learn. I just feel like they’re missing that closeness with the adults and teachers,” said Laura Ayala, 53.

Ayala teaches sixth grade at Logan Elementary Educational Complex.

“I’m just thankful. Thankful teachers are going to get vaccinated and ready to be in the classroom and educate our kids,” said Ayala.

Meanwhile, as teachers began the first round of vaccinations, the President and CEO of Sharp Healthcare warned of inconsistencies of vaccine shipments.

“Vaccination supply is a week-to-week ordeal. We all schedule for our appointments and we order vaccine, and then we wait to see what we’ll have available when our shipment arrives,” said Chris Howard.

Howard says Sharp Healthcare has enough doses to get through the weekend, and is hopeful shipments of the just approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine will begin arriving next week.