Dozens of school staffers sign up for shot at Health Dept.

Pierce County Schools teachers and staff will begin receiving doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week.

School superintendent Dara Bennett said 160 faculty and staff members have signed up for appointments to get the vaccine at the Pierce County Health Department this Thursday and Friday.

The number represents a little more than a third of the system’s total employees.

Bennett said some employees have already received the vaccine and some have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days and can’t take the vaccine until the three month exposure period has passed.

Local educators are among teachers and school staff statewide who will be eligible for the vaccine this week and will receive first priority on an 83,000-dose shipment of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, as well as remaining supplies of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to state officials.

Inoculating teachers and staff who want the vaccine late in the week gives them some recovery time in the event of possible mild side effects such as temporary flu-like symptoms and pain where the shot was given.

The school roll out comes after Gov. Brian Kemp last week expanded who is eligible for the vaccine to teachers, school staff, adults with behavioral and developmental disabilities and the parents of children with complex medical conditions. Those groups were eligible to start receiving the vaccine Monday.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods said vaccinating teachers and staff is critical to returning all Georgia K-12 students to in-person classes.

“We’re looking at how we can make a significant dent in the last third of the school year,” Woods said. “We still have work to do, but it’s a big opportunity for us as a state to look forward and be prepared.”

Beau Evans of the Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.