Sharp Healthcare aims to vaccinate 1,500 educators this weekend

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SAN DIEGO – Saturday marked the first day San Diego County teachers were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, along with emergency services, child care, food handling and agriculture workers.

“I kind of got a little emotional. It was like, ‘Oh, about time,'” said Bayside Elementary School teacher Amy Filippini, one of many educators who filled vaccination sites.

Sharp HealthCare and VEBA are partnering to vaccinate more than 1,500 educators this weekend at the Chula Vista and Grossmont vaccine sites through a new program called “VEBA vaccinates.”

“I have some underlying conditions and I think, for me, it would be a little bit scary going back,” Bayside Elementary teacher Jenny Munroe said. “This gives me a little bit of, you know, feeling at ease.”

Several school districts announced plans this week to bring students back to classrooms in the next two months. The San Diego Unified School District said its plans to bring students back in mid-April are contingent on all educators having access to the vaccine.

California Schools VEBA provides educator benefits and is working with every San Diego TK-12 school and community college to schedule vaccine appointments. Teachers and school staff in TK-12 can register for their shot at vebavaccinates.com.

“We’re hoping to get through 5,000 to 10,000 educators in the first couple of weeks, and then opening it up as rapidly as possible, as supply is available to be able to do that,” said Laura Josh, an area vice-president with California Schools VEBA.

A spokesperson with Sharp said about 80,000 educators in the county are awaiting the vaccine. County Supervisor Nora Vargas said the county is setting aside 20% of its supply for teachers.

“Most of our teachers haven’t been in the classroom, so we want to make sure they are prioritized — that they get their vaccines, and we’re going to be able to get back into our schools,” Vargas said.

County officials said more than 500,000 people became eligible for the vaccine Saturday. Some newly-eligible groups of workers, including law enforcement, also have employer-coordinated vaccination plans in place.

The Petco Park vaccination site remained closed Saturday because of a shortage of vaccine. San Diego County public health officials reported 450 new infections and 13 deaths.

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