By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – More than 1,000 Denver Public Schools employees got their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic held at Denver Health Saturday.

Despite bone-chilling temperatures outside, Aimee Fortin was quick to lose a few layers Saturday. Inside Denver Health, the only sting she planned on feeling was from a needle.

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“It was so much easier than I had expected,” Fortin said. “It’s been one month exactly since I’ve gone back to being in-person, so yeah, I’m pleased.” 

Fortin is one of 1,008 DPS staff members who had an appointment for the Denver Health vaccine clinic. She tells CBS4 she received the invitation on Wednesday and made the appointment for early Saturday afternoon. 

The clinic comes as essential workers are included in the next phase of the state’s vaccination plan, which includes teachers, school-based staff and childcare workers.  

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Michael Cowen, multidisciplinary operations manager with Denver Health, said the hope is to hold more clinics with DPS moving forward. The biggest thing that will affect the frequency and scale of the clinics will be vaccine allocation.  

Cowen is also married to a current DPS teacher. He was not one of the staff members who got vaccinated Saturday, but Cowen said she is confident he will get a chance to be vaccinated soon. 

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“These are my people, these are my husband’s people, and it’s just so important to prioritize and really get these educators in and all the staff that are serving all of our community,” Cowen said.  

According to DPS, staff priority is based off schools with the highest rate of students qualified for free and reduced lunch. That includes Oakland Elementary, where Aimee Fortin is a third-grade teacher. 

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“I’m really, really excited that I can be one more vector that stops it because being in my classroom it’s worrisome that I’d be the cause of spreading it,” She said.  

Fortin, like everyone else at Saturday’s clinic, will be back in three weeks for a second dose. For her, it will be a welcome and long-awaited prick after a painstaking year. 

“Hopefully knowing that I’m safe, with rates going down, I can get more of those remote kiddos back in-person and things can resume to normal,” Fortin said. 

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DPS says its goal is to offer vaccinations to any employee who wants one by spring break. 

Conor McCue