Plans coming together to vaccinate teachers

Teachers will soon have several options in order to receive a vaccination after the state approved moving ahead to the next phase of inoculations, Dr. Jeff Perry, Hamblen County school superintendent, said.

“We do have a plan in place,” he said. “It will be a multi-prong approach.”

The state announced on Monday that starting next week teachers, along with those 65 and older, could begin getting vaccinated statewide. The announcement came as several Hamblen County teachers were going to neighboring counties that were allowing teachers to get vaccinated.

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Counties in the northeast region of the state had gone to phase 1b in early January, which is the phase where teachers can be vaccinated. The new directive puts all Tennessee counties that do not have their own health departments on the same slate.

Perry said the school system has developed a partnership with Crescent Center Drugs, one of the local pharmacies approved to deliver the vaccine. He said Crescent Center has agreed to inoculate teachers after school.

He said the school system is also in the process of partnering with the Hamblen County Health Department and possibly Covenant Health to provide vaccinations to those staff within the school system.

Currently, the school system has around 1,400 employees including teachers and staff.

“It’s my hope that within the next two weeks we could have everyone vaccinated that wants to get vaccinated,” Perry said.

Perry said it has been hard for him and teachers over the last few weeks. He said he realized he had been blunt and a bit abrasive when speaking out about the fact that surrounding counties like Hawkins and Greene were administering vaccines.

But, he said he felt he had to fight for Hamblen’s teachers.

“I feel like I’ve got to stand up for the people I work with,” he said.

He said personally over the last several months he has felt the weight on his shoulders as he asks those who work for him to go into harm’s way.

But, he said he felt it was necessary. He also said he felt the supply of vaccinations were available. The state just didn’t make any decisions.

“I understand their desire to have a plan,” he said. “But, I think it could have been more flexible.”