Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN) – Teachers and school staff in Davidson County who have been patiently waiting for the COVID-19 Vaccine since it was approved by the federal government.
Over the weekend, HCA Healthcare TriStar Health partnered to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to teachers and school staff members.
“I want to go back to normalcy as quickly as possible, and I’m not sure what that even looks like, but knowing that there is a chance that I could prevent it from spreading to other people, even my own family. I have a newborn on the way, so I’m thinking about these things, not only personally for me, but others around me,” said Austin Groves, a teacher at Brentwood Academy.
Groves says life has been hard since the COVID-19 pandemic began, forcing schools to transition to virtual learning. As a speech teacher, he says looking at students’ facial expressions is half of his job, but mandatory masks, make his job difficult sometimes.
He says signing up for the vaccine was a welcomed opportunity.
“I, I might cry, because this year has been terrible. it’s been awful, and I have been fortunate enough to be in a school where we could get back into the in-person buts mandatory masking, we’re isolated, there are teachers that I see literally last week, and I forgot they even worked there,” explained Groves.
Hospital staff volunteered their time to administer more than a thousand vaccine doses. Starting at 9 a.m., 250 doses an hour were given. Inside an HCA building, teachers and school staff members filtered in every hour, filling out paperwork. Once completed, they went into various rooms to receive a dose of the Pfizer Vaccine. Afterward, each person sat for 15 minutes so nurses could monitor any side effects.
“We know that the teachers are such an important part of keeping children healthy and getting them back to school, so we are very excited to be able to get them vaccinated and get them back into the classrooms,” said Donna Perlin, Pediatric Emergency Physician, with TriStar Centennial Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Perlin says ensuring enough people get the vaccine is critical. She believes having health care providers take the vaccine first, served as a positive sign to other people to trust in the science.
“We’re keeping the children healthy and we’re also helping their mental health. A lot of these kids are so missing being around their friends and social interaction and it’s important for their development to be around other children and in the classroom. So we’re thrilled that we are able to get back into the classroom by vaccinating their teachers.” explained Perlin.
Doctors say they see first-hand the toll the pandemic has had on the community.
“Most of us are parents and we have children in the school system, and we also want that to get back to normal. Our children miss their teachers and teachers miss their children and we want to do everything we can to make sure that we reunite them,” said Amber Price, Chief Operating Officer for TriStar Centennial Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The hospital says for those who would like to get the vaccine, in order to sign up, they must go through their individual school to do so.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.