Hamblen County teachers  vaccinated at Crescent Center Drugs

Brittany Cox, a teacher at Russellville Elementary School, gets vaccinated Tuesday at Crescent Center Drugs as her daughter watches.

Teachers started showing up to the doors before vaccinations even began.

Crescent Center Drugs started vaccinating the first of Hamblen County teachers Tuesday and they started arriving even before the designated start time.

Linda Wilson, a teacher’s assistant at Fairview-Marguerite, was excited to get her first dose of the Moderna vaccination.

“I’m really happy that I’m getting it now because I was really concerned about getting out in public and getting the COVID,” she said. “I’m really happy to have it.”

Ryan Kragel, pharmacist and owner of Crescent Center Drugs, said he was happy to be able to get the vaccinations to teachers. He said it’s personal because he and his staff have so many connections with teachers.

“It’s a big thing to us,” he said. “I’ve got two kids in the school system. My mother was a teacher, she’s a retired teacher.”

He said at least seven of his pharmacists had ties to the school system.

“We know how important they are,” he said.

The state updated the phases last week to let all persons within school systems get vaccinated, teachers and staff. Kragel had already been working with the state and Hamblen County schools to be one of the first to administrate vaccines.

He said he had a shipment of around 500 vaccines come in last week to use and the pharmacy rented a storefront next door in order to inoculate.

He said he and his staff would work overtime this week in order to get shots into all teachers’ arms that want to be vaccinated. He set it up to where teachers can come in from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. after they get off work from school. He said they would be vaccinating Tuesday to Friday.

The health department also plans a mass drive-through event this Saturday at the Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center in White Pine.

Kragel said he felt like he is also helping that event. He said that means 500 less teachers to vaccinate.

The school system has around 1,400 teachers and staff.

“Our staff is putting in a lot of extra hours,” he said.

Kragel said the amount of vaccines is a lot for a pharmacy his size.

“But, we can do it,” he said.

Brittany Cox, a teacher at Russellville Elementary School, came in with her daughter to get vaccinated.

She said she was happy her wait to get vaccinated was over.

“I’m thrilled,” she said. “I’ve been waiting a little impatiently.”

Wilson said for her it is a sense of security.

“It’s more security because I work with kids and my husband also,” she said.