Teachers spring into new year fully vaccinated


Mr. Scott Fabert-Church, French teacher, gets his second COVID vaccination at Jefferson High School on March 12.

   Within the last few months, the RPS-205 district gave teachers the opportunity to get fully vaccinated. There were many different side effects to the vaccines, some more harsh than others. Now that most teachers have been vaccinated completely, many people are wondering whether or not the vaccinations will help us to return to a more normal school year in the fall.

   On January 5, an email was sent out by the district that teachers were in phase 1b of getting vaccinated. The vaccine was released in waves, with the more essential, or at risk people getting vaccinated first. On January 20, teachers were given a sign up deadline of January 26 to make their appointment. 

   “I had to sign up through the RPS 205 site to Guilford High School to get put on a list for a vaccination,” said Mrs. Angie Adams, security guard, who ended up receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

   Problems quickly arose. One of the first problems was the Jefferson vaccination site ran out of vaccines and most appointments ended up being cancelled or delayed.

   “I had one appointment that got cancelled because of not enough supply, but then got rescheduled pretty quickly,” said Ms. Jeanie Sullivan, Health Academy teacher, who received the Pfizer vaccine.

   Another problem that came up was when the Winnebago Health County Department cancelled all the Moderna vaccine appointments at RPS 205 sites for an unknown reason. Mr. Steve Primrose, math teacher, was one of those people who had a Moderna appointment cancelled by the Winnebago County Health Department. However, he still received the Moderna vaccine outside of RPS.

   “We were supposed to get it through the school district, but the Winnebago County Health Department cancelled,” said Mr. Primrose. “I took it upon myself to get vaccinated. I went to the Walgreens’ website. They had appointments available, and I signed up. All I had to do was answer a few quick questions, pick the dates and places, and I was set to go. It was incredibly easy.”

   A general consensus among teachers who got vaccinated was that the process to get vaccinated was quick and painless. Most Guilford teachers were vaccinated at Jefferson High School with the first vaccination occurring on Feb. 17 and the second vaccination occurring on March 12.

   “It was very fast,” said Mrs. Leann Dunlap, math teacher, who received the Pfizer vaccine. “The longest wait was sitting afterward to make sure you did not suffer from any side effects.”

   With the range of vaccine brands comes a wide variety of side effects. People who have gotten the Moderna vaccine have reported more severe side effects than people who have received Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson.

   “For the second dose, I got it at 10:15AM on a Sunday,” said Mr. Primrose. “I woke up at about 4:00AM Monday with a 101 fever, and was achy. That maintained like that until about 7:00PM that Monday night. I was also kind of achy the next day with the 2nd dose. All in all, I considered it pretty mild side effects. Oh, and, of course, a sore and slightly swollen arm at the injection site for a few days.”

   People who received the Pfizer vaccine have reported less severe side effects than people who got the Moderna vaccine.

   “I had a pretty sore shoulder muscle for only one day,” said Ms. Sullivan.

   Users of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have reported little to no side effects.

   “The only side effects that I had was a sore arm, and that was after a couple of days,” said Mrs. Adams. “I was tired on that day, not bad. On the second day I was more tired, otherwise that was it, no other symptoms.”

   Most teachers agreed that getting the vaccine is a big step in the right direction when dealing with the pandemic.

   “Being a teacher who teaches about science and worked in health care for sixteen years, I definitely believe that the vaccination is the only way we can have some hope of getting back to normal,” said Ms. Sullivan. “We trust other vaccinations and this one has gone through the same approval process. It was a faster process, but it was because we had already studied the RNA sequence (of SARS) for years and a lot of money was thrown at the process to get it through faster. And the efficacy rate is pretty good I’d say.”

   Most teachers also call upon their fellow teachers to get vaccinated, as they feel it would be beneficial to return to a more “normal” school year.

   “Students are able to come back to in-person learning April 19th, and a big reason is that a high percentage of teachers will be vaccinated, including the two-week period after the 2nd doses, and protected at about a 90% efficacy rate against even getting infected,” said Mr. Primrose. “Now with new data coming out about the efficacy of the vaccines in students between the ages of 12 and 15 being 100% against infection, I am more hopeful that we can return to full in-person school in the fall.”