McHenry County announces partnership to prioritize vaccines for teachers

McHenry County teachers will soon have access to the COVID-19 vaccine through two clinics at Huntley High School and Woodstock North High School in a partnership involving local school districts, volunteers and the McHenry County Department of Health.

The rollout of Phase 1b in McHenry County will begin with residents 65 and older through the health department's partnerships with local hospitals and private pharmacies like Jewel-Osco, which have agreed to administer vaccines to seniors who registered with the county or are part of their health system, according to a news release from the health department Friday.

Meanwhile, the health department will finish providing the county's Phase 1a populations with their second doses, and will then expand Phase 1b vaccinations to include teachers in the third or fourth week of February, depending on vaccine availability, using the two school sites, according to the news release.

"We've collaborated with schools since the start of the pandemic, and this is a visible example of the type of work we have been doing behind the scenes," Public Health Administrator Melissa Adamson said in the release. "This type of collaboration benefits not only the individuals in Phase 1b, but also the entire county. Many people are interested in receiving the vaccine as soon as possible, and this helps speed along the process to get us to those next groups in line as soon as possible."

Woodstock North High School has been the site of vaccine clinics run by the health department since the county received its first doses at the end of December. In this expansion, they will be taking that experience and using it to run their own clinic, Woodstock School District 200 Superintendent Michael Moan said.

Once the district begins hybrid learning Monday, it will have to quickly transition from serving students in the morning to serving as a vaccine hub for half of the county's teachers in the afternoon, he said.

"It's not going to be easy, you know, it'll be tight sometimes time-wise," Moan said in an interview Friday. "It'll be a lot of work for everybody but I mean the end result is something we all need and want, so we're willing to roll our sleeves up and get after it."

Woodstock North will be responsible for vaccinating teachers who work in the northern half of McHenry County and Huntley High School will handle teachers in the southern half of the county, he said.

Preparations for this undertaking have been underway for weeks and the two sites will have the full support of the health department's Medical Reserve Corps and school nurses and qualified volunteers from across the county, according to the news release.

Huntley Unit District 158 Superintendent Scott Rowe said his staff are ready and willing to be vaccinated.

"Our staff members have been hungry all year to get our schools open to best meet the needs of all of our students," Rowe said in the news release. "For that to be possible, we have to protect our staff, and the vaccine is an important next step in meeting our responsibility to do that."

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