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Idaho Falls School District 91 receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine much earlier than planned

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Cory Bingham, a teacher with D91 Online Academy, receives the COVID-19 vaccine. | Silas Wright, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — It was a busy day at Taylorview Middle School Friday as teachers and faculty members stood in line for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Only a week ago, they thought they’d have to wait at least a month. To their surprise, Governor Little announced on Tuesday that teachers and school staff will be prioritized higher on the list of who should receive the vaccine next.

“We will prioritize teachers, school staff, first responders and some frontline workers between Jan. 13 and Jan. 31 before making doses available to the 65 and up population starting Feb. 1,” Little said during a live-streamed address Tuesday.

RELATED | Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he’s laser focused on distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

Once the district was made aware of these changes, administrators contacted Eastern Idaho Public Health District for help in setting up the clinic. Many who came were impressed at the efficiency that allowed them to get the vaccine in a quick and orderly fashion.

“I was so excited to get the vaccine today,” Counseling secretary Kaitlin Rohde tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We were all very excited when we got the email saying they were going to be rolling out the vaccine for us.”

The district sent an email to the school on Thursday explaining where they could sign up. Over 600 slots were filled within a couple of hours, according to District spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne.

“I think that’s just a testament to our staff and their willingness to do whatever we need to keep schools open,” Wimborne added.

Workers with Eastern Idaho Public Health setting up a clinic at Taylorview Middle School. | Silas Wright, EastIdahoNews.com

Those that received the vaccine Friday will be able to get their second dose in a similar clinic in three weeks.

More than 38,891 vaccine doses have been administered since the Gem State started receiving and giving the vaccine the week of Dec. 14. There are 27,476 people who’ve received only one dose and 5,692 people who’ve been given both doses.

RELATED | More Idahoans eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting Wednesday; Local recoveries move past 33,000, with 340 local deaths

District 91 is aware that it will take time for others to be able to get the vaccine and will continue to use proper COVID-19 safety measures while the county is below EIPH’s “green” zone. Skyline Principal Josh Newell is hopeful that this will be a step in the direction of seeing schools and classrooms return back to normal.

“I’m hoping this thing goes away as quickly as possible,” Newell told EastIdahoNews.com “We just want to go back to normal … and educate our kids the way we all know how.”

Amy Gamett, Division Administrator with EIPH, explained that they are moving through priority groups very quickly.

Idahoans aged 65-and-older will be able to receive the vaccine starting in February and in late February to early March, IDHW reports the vaccine will be available to food and agriculture workers, Idaho National Guard members and manufacturing, public transit, and U.S. Postal Service workers. The vaccine will be available to the general public in May.

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