Delays in vaccinations – why is it taking so long?


Photo courtesy of Flickr

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan visits the mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Six Flags America, in Bowie on Feb. 5. Some WJ teachers have been able to get the vaccine at the site.

In light of the decision by the MCPS Board of Education to begin the process of returning to school on March 1, there has been a push in the county to get teachers and school workers vaccinated for the coronavirus. However, many staff has not yet been able to receive the vaccine.

When asked about her impression of the vaccine rollout in the county so far, WJ English teacher Sarah Gayman replied, sarcastically, “What rollout?”

At the time of writing, the state of Maryland is currently in vaccination phase 1C, which includes education staff. However, Montgomery County clinics are only vaccinating group 1A and certain individuals in group 1B at this time. There has been a limited number of available vaccines in the county.

WJ Counselor Heather Dodge believes the rollout of the vaccines in the county for educators has been problematic.

“I feel that Montgomery County is doing a really good job at getting people vaccinated on the front lines…I don’t feel like [Montgomery County is] supporting teachers and educators that want the vaccine,” she said. “…A lot of teachers and educators still have not been able to get the vaccine yet.”

WJ paraeducator Phyllis O’Neill says she’s been able to receive the first dose of the vaccine, but is still holding her breath for the second dose.

“Luckily, I got my first vaccine, but I still don’t trust that it’s going to happen again in two weeks,” she said. “I’m very fearful.”

The MCPS Board of Education voted on Feb. 9 to begin the process of returning students and staff to in-person learning on March 1. The county has developed a comprehensive plan that details which students will be going back and when. Students will be split into groups and each group will rotate being virtual or in-person each week. Those who opted to remain in virtual learning will do so. Freshmen and juniors will return no later than April 19, sophomores no later than April 26 and seniors no later than April 6.

At the national level, the Biden administration has promised to ramp up the distribution of vaccines to states. The President has asked Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which grants billions of dollars to vaccination efforts. The plan also includes $170 billion for K-12 schools.

“It’s really been terribly frustrating and scary,” O’Neill said. “I’m walking around now with two masks on.”