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'Dividing and conquering': County hopes to vaccinate Guilford educators in next two weeks

'Dividing and conquering': County hopes to vaccinate Guilford educators in next two weeks

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GREENSBORO — Guilford County plans to vaccinate the majority of staffers in public and private schools in the next two weeks in an all-out effort to protect them from the coronavirus.

Dr. Iulia Vann, Guilford County's health director, told the Board of Commissioners Thursday night that the new plan will ensure that 80% of school personnel — as many as 15,000 in Guilford County — can get a vaccine beginning Thursday. 

Vann told the commissioners that Guilford County will temporarily suspend providing vaccines to people over 65 for two weeks — Cone Health will continue that work — to dedicate up to 12,000 first doses to teachers, custodians, day care workers and anybody else who regularly comes into contact with children. 

"We, the county, are going to focus our efforts for the next two weeks on educators," Vann said.

Through partnerships with private health providers, "we will try to have an equitable distribution of doses to the community as a whole," she said, while the special effort for educators is a way of taking care of those people quickly. 

"It’s, in a way, dividing and conquering," Vann said. 

Soon, the county will send a link that will enable educators and other personnel to schedule appointments. 

The county will target three areas: Guilford County Schools, child care centers and private or charter schools. 

The appointments will begin Thursday and run through Saturday with a repeat of the same schedule the following week. 

The county is recommending which school employees should receive the vaccine first, a plan that will be used by Guilford County Schools:  

• All Exceptional Children Program staff: Teachers, teacher assistants, support staff, related services and transportation in public separate schools and self-contained classrooms. 

• All staff 51 to 64 years old. 

• All staff 36 to 50 years old.

• All staff 18 to 35 years old. 

Guilford County is choosing to make educators and school personnel a priority because the state has mandated that they are eligible between Feb. 24 and March 10, when other groups also become eligible. 

Vann said the county's hope is that 80% of the 15,000 eligible school personnel will choose to get the vaccine. She said the county knows it can count on receiving a minimum of 3,500 doses each week and other providers will also receive allocations for about 4,000 more doses. 

Vann said that the Guilford County Schools district has 10,000 of the employees eligible, private and charter schools have 2,500 and child care centers have another 2,500. 

Melvin "Skip" Alston, who chairs the Board of Commissioners, said the county won't stop there. 

Earlier this week Alston sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper asking the state to provide all school employees with doses in addition to the doses available for people over 65. 

"We’re going to continue to write letters. We’re going to continue to press (Cooper) and call him and ask for more vaccines," Alston said. "It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease and that’s what we’re trying to be." 

Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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