COVID-19 vaccination effort underway to get vaccine to teachers and staff in rural areas

Posted at 7:42 AM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 09:46:41-05

IDAHO — A local health care provider is taking on the task of administering the COVID-19 vaccine in rural communities to give access to those who are eligible under the state's current prioritization list.

Jesus Blanco, a Patient Navigator Supervisor at Terry Reilly Health Services, said they want educators and school staff in rural communities to have the opportunity to get the vaccine.

"We understand it is difficult to have them come to us so we're doing everything we can to connect our services out in these rural areas," Blanco said. "Really soon, we'll have a mobile unit medical and dental that we plan to take some small communities. What's really neat about that is that our medical unit will be utilized for the COVID vaccine as long as it is available."

One shot after another, dozens of teachers and personnel from Melba School District got the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

"Really I just kind of want to back to normal as fast as possible and protect my family," Marty Luttrell, a math teacher for MSD, said.

"Just don't be afraid. It's a vaccine. I think we are all working together. We are in the community together. We all have to do our part, whatever that part is," said Erika Kim, a Spanish teacher for MSD.

Pre-K through 12th-grade teachers and staff are eligible to get the vaccine now. Blanco said their next stop is Homedale. Their goal is to visit school districts in rural communities from Canyon to Owyhee Counties. Blanco said they would revisit the schools to administer the second dose to those receiving the first one.

According to Southwest District Health, there have been more than 23,000 COVID-19 cases in Canyon County; Melba had 248 of them.

"We are not maybe interacting with the other communities as much, so we've been sheltered a little bit. But our community is so close together if one person gets it, and it spreads to our community very rapidly," Sherry Ann Adams, Superintendent of Melba School District, said.

That's why they say this vaccination rollout is vital, giving hope to many.

"We are so excited to be part of this process. To show people, it's safe; it's okay. We are ready to go," Adams said.