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Over 2,000 school employees get vaccinated at Berglund Center Friday

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 5:55 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - More than 2,000 school employees from several school systems in the Roanoke-Alleghany Health Districts, including Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Botetourt County, and Salem, got their COVID-19 vaccines Friday. Many say the process went smoothly and it was easy to social distance.

People were inside the Berglund Center from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. getting the vaccines. Throughout most of the day, people lined up for the vaccines at a steady rate, with little to no wait. WDBJ7 walked through the lines with Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White to hear her thoughts on this process.

“It was really a flawless process. It was easy and accessible, and I’m just really grateful to the Virginia Department of Health for setting up this very important step for our teachers, for our staff members, as we get one step closer to normalcy,” White said. “I do think it’s important to get as many people vaccinated as possible because this is urgent; we have a sense of urgency about making sure that we are getting to our students, that our students are able to get to us.”

Friday’s event was the largest mass vaccine clinic in the Roanoke and Alleghany Health Districts to date.

School employees and sisters Stephane and Katie King were able to get vaccinated together.

“It feels great for me; we are all really close. We are two of four educators in our family, so soon by the end of the week we’ll all have had the first dose,” Stephane King, Instructional Coach for Lincoln Terrace Elementary School, said.

“I think they did a great job just maintaining social distancing in there and also just being effective with our time,” Katie King, Stephane’s sister and the School Counselor for Roanoke County Public Schools, said.

Carilion, the Virginia Department of Health, and local school superintendents partnered to get vaccines into as many arms as possible.

“This is bittersweet for us. It is so exciting to see that we’re vaccinating 2,000 teachers and staff, but I know that there are people at home who are desperate to get vaccines and it breaks my heart that we can’t do this for everybody today,” Cynthia Morrow, Health District Director for Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, said.

But she said health officials are committed to getting vaccines into arms as soon as they can, while working as safely as possible.

“I encourage people to get it, even if they’re on the fence, because it might not be you you’re concerned about, but someone else. Just like a mask, you’re doing it for other people,” Paula Veckman, English Learner Teacher for John P. Fishwick Middle School, said.

Those who received the vaccines Friday will be back at the Berglund Center in three weeks for a second dose.

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