Teacher vaccination program runs out of vaccines

By Heather Bailey, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, February 26, 2021

Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park has served as the location for SCOE's vaccine clinic for school personnel in Sonoma County. (Photo Google Images)

In a statement released on Feb. 25, the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) announced it will be shutting down its teacher vaccination clinic next week due to lack of vaccine availability.

“Unfortunately, California is again experiencing vaccine shortages,” said the statement. “As a result, the Public Health Department informed us on Thursday, Feb. 25 that no additional doses of vaccine will be available for the week of March 1 through 5. As a result, the SCOE Vaccination Clinic will be closed next week, reopening on March 8 if the supply of vaccine increases. For the past two weeks, the Public Health Department received a much reduced allocation of vaccine and needs this limited supply to meet future requests for second doses.

“We know this news is discouraging, but here is the good news: We have a robust system in place and are ready to begin administering 4,000 doses per week moving forward. We will be ready to resume vaccinating educators at Rancho Cotate High School as soon as the supply of vaccine increases. We remain confident that the supply will increase in the coming weeks,” the statement concluded.

As of Friday, Feb. 26, SCOE has given out 4,200 vaccines, despite supply setbacks due to the winter storms in the Midwest. During the first week of vaccinations for school employees, the County of Sonoma asked SCOE to prioritize educators over age 70 as well as childcare providers and school staff who were currently serving children in-person.

SCOE then moved on to the next phase, which included several small elementary school districts. These districts were chosen because they serve a high percentage of socio-economically disadvantaged students and because of their small for size.

“We needed to start small so that we could perfect our systems before scaling up to larger districts. We were building this system from the ground up,” SCOE said in a statement.

Going forward, as vaccine become available, SCOE will vaccinate TK-6 staff who have not already been vaccinated, until this group is complete. Then, they will move on to secondary school staff and office staff, before vaccinating SRJC and SSU staff.

Given the shortages and temporary shutdown of the SCOE clinic, SCOE is telling educators the they can get their vaccines elsewhere if able and eligible.

“We encourage school staff to get vaccinated through other means if options are made available, such as through your healthcare provider or a local clinic. In some cases, community health clinics in parts of the county have offered to partner with their local school districts to vaccinate school staff in those areas. This is separate from SCOE and our prioritization, but we encourage and support it. The faster those staff get vaccinated, the faster we can move through our priority tiers,” the statement said.

The statement was signed jointly by Steven D. Herrington, Sonoma County superintendent of schools and Jeff Harding, Sonoma County Office of Education vaccine coordinator.

This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at sonomawest.com