With the support of Mayor DeMaria and his team, the Everett Public Schools (EPS) partnered with the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) on a successful and far-reaching COVID Vaccine initiative that supported the district’s plan to offer in-person teaching and learning to students.
A total of 335 EPS teachers and staff members received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the CHA’s Vaccination Center in Somerville on March 11 and 12. This, coupled with the state’s expanding efforts, meant that Everett educators will be vaccinated by the time classes reopen in late March and early April.
“We have advocated for vaccinating teachers since Day 1, but it is up to the state and health organizations to make it a reality,” said Supt. Priya Tahiliani. “Clearly, the CHA has answered the call in a major way. I can’t thank Christian Lanphere and the entire team at CHA enough for the support they have provided us throughout the pandemic, from helping us formulate our initial safety guidance last summer to providing a crucial voice on our Covid-19 Task Force. It is fitting that the CHA is now serving a vital role in helping us bring our students back to school through this vaccination drive.”
While the district’s initial plan was to prioritize this opportunity for those individuals who have returned to school buildings as well as those who are central to the first phase of the district’s in-person reopening, added availability from the CHA meant that the EPS was able to extend an invite to every employee.
“We heard from a lot of staff who told us they had already received their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or were scheduled to receive it soon. Obviously, that added to the capacity of our clinic, and we were able to provide the vaccine to all staff members who expressed an interest in receiving one, exceeding even our greatest expectations,” said Tahiliani.
Tahiliani extended her thanks to everyone who quickly organized the EPS/CHA clinic on relatively short notice, using an easy online registration process.
“My team, as well as city leaders have been nothing if not persistent in seeking out any and all opportunities to vaccinate teachers,” she said.
The CHA clinic was ideally set up to meet the needs of the district. First and foremost, the CHA Vaccination Center is minutes from Everett, on Somerville Avenue, just outside of Union Square. The site has plenty of parking, and inside the facility CHA staff established an express line for EPS employees, minimizing disruption to the school day. Participants only needed to provide their name before receiving the shot and taking a seat for 15 minutes of observation.
The CHA provided everyone with a Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card, which features the CDC logo and a sticker indicating the administration of the Jansen/Johnson & Johnson dose. This card is not only proof of vaccination, but could also one day be required for travel. Participants were also automatically logged into the Massachusetts Immunization System.
Those who received the vaccine were also provided easy access to v-safe, a smartphone-based health checker. Through v-safe, people can quickly and privately tell the CDC about any side effects. This is part of a large-scale effort to gather information and data that will help keep Covid-19 vaccines safe.
For the district, the vaccination effort has been an essential part of successfully transitioning away from a fully-remote model. “After extending this opportunity to all of our staff, we feel perfectly poised to begin in-person instruction in the coming weeks,” said Superintendent Tahiliani.