(CBS4) – Starting on Monday Colorado teachers and all other school employees will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Jared Polis made the change to the state’s phased distribution plan just a few weeks ago, leaving some school districts scrambling to get information to their employees about how to access the vaccine.
Districts have now turned to some of the area’s major health care providers to distribute the vaccine to their staff, but with a limited supply they will only be opening up a select number of appointments for educators until they can sufficiently vaccinate those 70 years old and older.READ MORE: WANTED: Jamar Harris Sr. Accused Of Attacking And Kidnapping Ex-Girlfriend
Billy and Kerry Andrews, teachers at Eagleton Elementary School in Denver, were excited to hear that educators would move up in line but never imagined they would be among the first to get an appointment.
“It felt very validating and exciting, because the work is so essential,” Kerry said.
Denver Public Schools partnered with Children’s Hospital Colorado to start getting shots in the arms of their employees, adding an additional layer of safety to their return to the classroom.
“I will definitely feel more comfortable, it’s a huge step to getting back to normal,” Billy said.
Still, the majority of Colorado educators have been told the wait will be lengthy as many facilities continue to work through the essential staff like nurses.
James MacIndoe, who teaches English at Standley Lake High School, signed up for the vaccine through his provider at the direction of the Jefferson County School District.
“I checked yesterday, and I was almost 21,000 people deep on the list,” Maccindoe said.READ MORE: 'I Prayed So Hard': Pregnant Colorado Mom Talks About Fighting COVID In The ICU
In a statement, a spokesperson for the district said the “above the dotted line” eligible people are still not sufficiently vaccinated; therefore, those groups will continue to be the priority while providers will also begin scheduling limited numbers of appointments for education workers as part of the pool. Everyone involved points to insufficient vaccine quantities as the major challenge.
MacIndoe’s luck changed on Saturday when the district sent out a mass email saying the SCL Health clinic at the National Western Complex had 200 spare doses and they needed to be gone within the hour.
“As we started to get close to the parking lot there was a car that stopped in front of me. The passenger door flew open and a woman just sprinted out of the car,” he said.
Despite the chaos trying to get to the complex, he was among those who got the vaccine and with it an eye-opening experience.
“It (the email) definitely resulted in some panic for Jefferson County teachers, but it also speaks to the desperation that everybody feels to get this vaccine because we don’t know what the plan is,” he said.
Regardless of how or when they get the vaccine, educators agree it brings new opportunity back to school.
“We will feel much safer once we get our vaccination,” Andrews said.MORE NEWS: After Small Planes Collided Over Denver Area, Woman Saw Damaged Aircraft Coming Down And 'Just Ran'
JeffCo Schools apologized on Sunday for sending the mass notification and causing traffic issues as well as confusion among staff. Going forward, they will send information about extra doses based on a prioritized list.