Vaccination station

What is getting the COVID-19 vaccination like? Hear what teachers who took the COVID-19 vaccine have to say about their experience.

School nurses, Rosemary Ryan and Pat Berry, prepare testing kits for students and staff. | Photo courtesy of Anika Xi ’23/Staff

After ten months encapsulated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, at least for certain individuals. Beginning mid-January, many Montgomery County residents falling under the criteria of Phase 1A were administered the vaccine. Phase 1A applies to a variety of top-concern citizens, including healthcare personnel, people ages 65 and older, and people ages 16-64 with certain conditions designated high-risk.

Several LMSD staff have already received the vaccine, though many still await it anxiously. Social Studies Teacher John Grace received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine on January 25, administered in a small gym in the Health Sciences Center at Montgomery County Community College. When he went, there were anywhere from 100 to 150 people there in line. He described his experience, saying, “Everything—from the several MCCC employees greeting me, taking my temperature, confirming my appointment and my immediate health —was just so… normal, so underwhelming, but I imagine everyone in those lines thought about what we were getting: a chance to receive the first dose.” For him, the process was efficient and highly organized. He stated, “By the time it was my turn for that Moderna dose number one, with a LOT number on the vaccine syringe, and a brand new vaccine card handed me—it was over that quickly. The nurses were precise and swift and preparing for the next person behind me.” After his vaccine, he had to wait fifteen to twenty minutes to be sure of no immediate symptoms.

 Other staff members felt the registration process proved quite stressful. Fellow teacher Mark Levy described that part of the process as “very hit or miss,” though it was organized at the actual location. Overall, the vaccines have gone well enough for the staff members that qualify. Does this mean that the pandemic, and the hybrid schedule, is coming to a close? Not quite yet. COVID-19 is still very much present in Montgomery County and elsewhere, with an average of 5,607 new daily cases between January 23 and January 30. Additionally, Phase 1B of vaccinations has yet to start, which includes education workers and caretakers of children, leaving the majority of staff members vulnerable in the meantime.

Not many students are permitted to receive the vaccine yet, but many eagerly await the day when the distribution will reach them. Rebecca Lappen ’23 describes her sentiments, saying, “I’m looking forward to all of Lower Meiron being vaccinated so everyone can go to school safely and learn in an easier environment. Given the chance, I’d take the vaccine in an instant.” 

Whether or not students will be fully vaccinated, Superintendent Robert Copeland feels optimistic. In an email to the LMSD parents last week, he described the current course of action: “Our Administration is continuing to consult with public health officials and CHOP’s PolicyLab for their guidance as we plan scenarios for how and when to return students to fulltime in-person instruction. They tell us it may be possible that could happen this spring, if staff can be vaccinated and student testing can be ramped up, among other variables.”