SAN ANTONIO — More than 4.5 million Texans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and due to a recent announcement by the Biden administration, teachers and other school staff are now eligible to be immunized.
Those efforts are underway this week, as San Antonio ISD partnered with South Texas Allergy and Asthma Professionals (STAAMP) to vaccinate 100 employees on Tuesday.
Michael Rodriguez in an electrician with the district and was one of the dozens who received a prick in his arm.
“It’s very important so that I don’t get sick and I don’t infect others,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said his days consist of traveling to different campuses and coming in contact with many different people.
“We’re around kids, teachers, and we just want to make sure everyone is safe and healthy,” he said.
The vaccines made up the first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that STAAMP has received.
“We're happy to be able to have that service for them to help protect our some of our true first line heroes that are out there,” said Erika Gonzalez, CEO and president of STAAMP.
Gonzalez said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – which consists of just one dose, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna options – has a 100% protection rate from death, according to studies.
“That’s really what the point is here, to save lives,” Gonzalez said. “The Johnson & Johnson (vaccine) is just as good as the other two vaccines. So, to the teachers out there – not just from the SAISD district, but from everywhere – we are thankful for you guys being out there, putting your lives on the line.”
SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the district has around 40% of students receiving in-classroom instruction.
“We know that we need more,” said Martinez. “We have many children that are remote right now, that are struggling, and parents are worried. So is our staff.”
The district partnered with Community Labs a few months ago to administer rapid COVID-19 testing to students and staff.
“We're one of the few districts in the country that offers that to our students and our staff, and that really reduces the anxiety," Martinez said. "What scares them the most is the unknown."
Martinez said the partnership with STAAMP marks the beginning of the effort to get local teachers, school staff and child care workers vaccinated.
He said around 25% of district staff has already received their vaccine.
The 100 employees who received the vaccine on Tuesday work at high schools, because many are still working doing extra-curricular activities and other events.
They also selected support and maintenance staff like Rodriguez who are continuing duties through Spring Break.
“We're going to be planning with STAAMP and other partners to try to get all of our staff done,” said Martinez. “My hope is that we get them done by no later than mid-May.”
As for Rodriguez, he hopes his colleagues will get their vaccine when it’s available to them.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry, and we’ve already seen what sorry means,” he said. “(There's) so many that we’ve lost already.”