REDMOND — Among the 1,100 people scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccines Saturday at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, several were teachers who were thrilled to have protection against the virus as their schools plan to resume in-person learning.
Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers began receiving their vaccines Thursday, when Oregon Health Authority added them to those in the early stages of the vaccine distribution. About 2,500 teachers in Central Oregon were expected to get their vaccinations in the first week, according to local health officials.
Inside the Middle Sister building at the fairgrounds Saturday, teachers and others approved for vaccines checked in and were guided toward tables where nurses waited with the vaccine.
Jeannie Wenndorf, a sixth grade teacher at Sky View Middle School in Bend, was eager to get her shot and feel protected when she returns to her classroom Monday.
“I’m grateful that teachers got put in the queue now that we are being asked to go back to school,” Wenndorf said. “I feel relief to have some protection and I feel valued.”
Wenndorf said her school let teachers decide how much remote and in-person learning they wanted to do with their classes. Having the vaccine makes the decision much easier, she said.
“Teachers have been given options for what we are comfortable with, but we want to be with our students,” Wenndorf said.
Sydney Murphy, a third grade teacher at Silver Rail Elementary School in Bend, waited until Saturday to get her vaccine, but said many teachers rushed to the fairgrounds Thursday and Friday out of excitement.
“Everybody was sort of in a frenzy,” Murphy said.
Murphy said getting the vaccine was not just for her, but for more protection for all school staff and students.
“It’s just a bigger picture of safety for staff in the building, which is really important to many people,” Murphy said.
Molly Wells Darling, operation chief for the Deschutes County incident command team, which is overseeing the vaccinations at the fairgrounds, said the vaccination center in the Middle Sister building had a surge of teachers on Thursday and Friday.
“Teachers, especially, were just so excited,” Wells Darling said. “Some of them were in tears, they were so happy.”
A total of about 4,600 people were scheduled to receive vaccinations at the fairgrounds by Sunday, including teachers, Wells said. She expects a higher number of vaccinations next week.
Many people who were vaccinated told Wells how fast the process went. Once a person is registered, they are able to get vaccinated within 7 minutes, Wells said.
They then have to wait 15 minutes in a respite area where they are monitored for any allergic reactions.
No major reactions have been reported.