GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Big Bend school leaders are trying to ease the access to vaccines for people teaching our community's youngest.
Since scheduling an appointment isn't always easy, Gadsden County Health Department is now stepping up to make sure their school staff is protected.
"It's been a concern in the back of my mind. But getting vaccinated helps ease those concerns," said Gadsden Central Academy Middle School Teacher Randall Estelle.
Estelle is one of more than 260 educators vaccinated at a drive-thru clinic at the Gadsden Technical Center this week.
"I'm ready for the students to come back," said Estelle. "This is a major step to get the kids back in the classroom and the teachers vaccinated so we can feel safe and we can thoroughly do our job."
School employees who have gotten the shot say they're now going to spread the word in hopes of encouraging other people to get vaccinated.
"I would advise everyone to please get their shots so that we can please go back to normalcy. Any of my friends or family who see this, get the shot," said Gadsden Tech Career Counselor Natalie Dupont-Bradwell.
"At the end of the day, it's safety first. Yes, there's a lot that we're learning but Moderna has been out for some time now and we had the opportunity to see how individuals are responding. It's very minimal when it comes to side effects, nothing out of the usual," said Gadsden DOH Operations Manager Stacey Hannigon.
Gadsden Department of Health is reporting 8,615 people have been vaccinated in the area so far. Now, 5,679 of those people have been fully vaccinated.
Gadsden Central Academy Custodian Lindea McGriff said the process was made easy.
"It's so convenient because we're right across the street. And I'm so excited that they came to the school system because other than dealing with staff, we're dealing with kids, too," said McGriff.
Gadsden is also offering their vaccine clinics at least twice a week and once to home-bound patients. With more clinics and opportunities to get employees vaccinated open, McGriff has a message for anyone who's not sure if it's the right choice.
"If little old me can do it, and not be nervous, you don't have to be," said McGriff. "It will save your life."
In Leon County, similar efforts are being made to protect school employees. LCS worked with the health department to offer a vaccine clinic where 400 employees were able to get vaccinated.