Summit Community Care Clinic partnership with public health, school district helps teachers get vaccinated

Dr. Lee Cohen administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Summit County teacher Andrew Moran on Feb. 13 at the bus depot in Frisco. Most Summit County educators are expected to be vaccinated by Saturday, Feb. 27.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

After the COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru event Saturday, Feb. 27, Summit County officials expect to have vaccinated nearly all of the local educator population.

While public health officials played a role in getting that effort off the ground, the Summit Community Care Clinic was the major provider for the county’s educators and child care workers.

The nonprofit already operates four school-based health clinics across Summit School District. That partnership meant it was easy for the clinic to volunteer to be the district’s provider for vaccines, Care Clinic CEO Helen Royal said.

“With that longstanding relationship with the district, we wanted to do anything we could to help them stay open and have kids be safe in schools,” she said. “It just was a logical decision.”

Even with longstanding partnerships between the clinic, public health and the school district, vaccinating educators hasn’t been an easy undertaking.

Each week, officials are given the number of vaccine doses they’ll receive from the state. Typically, the public health department will share a portion of its allocated doses with the clinic and vice versa.

Sometimes the educators are vaccinated as part of the county’s weekly vaccine drive-thru events, and in other instances, the clinic itself has hosted a drive-thru for educators. It all depends on how many doses are in the county and the easiest way to distribute them.

Because of the ever-changing nature of the vaccine process, the clinic and the district have had adapt. Each week, once the vaccine distribution plan is finalized, the district sends out a sign-up to its employees.

Despite all of the logistics, the Care Clinic helps in some way or another each week, said Georgia Sinclair, the clinic’s COVID-19 operations administrator.

“This week, we were planning on providing a clinic for teachers, but since public health received (1,000 doses), we’re partnering with them and providing some of our employees to help out at the (drive-thru event) on Saturday,” she said. “So that’s how we’re still going to provide vaccines to teachers.”

Next week, the clinic hopes to host another drive-thru vaccination event to cover the remaining educators. However, that all depends on what happens with supply, Sinclair said.

While the process has been frustrating at times, Sinclair said it’s worth it to see the look on educators’ faces when they receive their dose.

“It’s just that little glimmer of hope that everybody kind of expresses,” she said. “They’re getting their vaccine, and it’s just that little glimmer that we might be getting toward the end of the pandemic. The teachers might be able to see their students’ faces and be with them in person all the time.”

Oakley Van Oss, a Spanish, welding and construction technology teacher at Summit High School, said he’s excited to receive his first dose of the vaccine Saturday.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Van Oss has been worried about bringing the virus home to his wife, as he works in person and she does not.

“It’s a huge relief,” he said. “She really is at the mercy of me, and if I were to get infected, I’m bringing it home to the house.”

He added that the district’s process for signing up for the vaccine has been smooth. Van Oss said he first received an email that he could get an appointment last week but was too late in responding to secure a spot.

He was then very diligent this week when he heard doses were available.

“I was checking my email every five minutes,” he said. “I feel just so thankful that they prioritized teachers. I think it’s a great benefit for the community to have their kids in school.”

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