Hundreds of educators and support staff in Tulare County receive COVID-19 vaccine

'It gives us a little bit more confidence about bringing kids all the way back.'
PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- South Valley school districts are working to make sure hundreds of teachers and support staff are protected through two COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

On Friday evening, 400 teachers and support staff members were vaccinated at Monache High School in Porterville.

Those educators were from 13 districts across Tulare County, including Wendy Plaisted who is a first grade teacher at Vandalia Elementary School in Porterville.

"Having that shot, that vaccine is going to make us feel a little bit more secure about doing our job every day," said Plaisted.

She currently teaches on Zoom in the morning and then four days a week, in the afternoon, she has students on campus who want extra support.

Plaisted said receiving the vaccine makes her feel more comfortable about being in the classroom.

"It gives us a little bit more confidence about bringing kids all the way back," said Plaisted.

Teachers and support staff were carefully selected throughout Tulare County to receive the vaccine, 800 vaccines in total will be given out before the weekend is over.

"As vaccines supply is still limited we are having to do some priorities of these early clinics for teachers. And what we're shooting for is those teachers who currently have kids in the classroom." said Carrie Monteiro, the Public Information Officer for Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency.

Monteiro said Tulare County has been offering vaccines to teachers, but slowly because the emphasis has been on getting first responders and people ages 65 and older vaccinated first. She said now that all of those individuals have received their second dose of the vaccine, they've been able to ramp up vaccines for educators.

While not every educator across the county is eligible to get the vaccine right now, Tim Hire with the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools says they're still working to make that possible.

"We're looking forward to being able to putting on more of these clinics and getting more and more educators vaccinated as the vaccines arrive to our county." Hire said.

For teachers like Plaisted who was vaccinated Friday night, she hopes it also means they'll be able to reopen before the school year ends.

"So that we are able to bring those kiddos back and spend that time bonding with them and giving them that one-on-one attention that they truly deserve." Plaisted said.

Another invite-only vaccine clinic will be held in Dinuba Saturday morning to vaccinate more educators and support staff.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.