By Bonnie Rodriguez
Cars lined the parking lot of Liberty Ranch High School on Feb. 24, as preschool to grade 12 educators, medical professionals, first responders, and people aged 65 years or older participated in a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru. More than 60 volunteers helped to facilitate this first Galt shot clinic where 1,163 recipients received their first round of the vaccination.
The vaccines were made available through advance appointments for people belonging to high priority groups in Sacramento County’s Tier 1A -1B phase of its vaccination plan.
The event was made possible by a collaborative effort between Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD), Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD), Arcohe School District, River Delta School District, Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD), CSD Medical Director Dr. Kevin Mackey, the city of Galt and the Sacramento County Office of Education.
“The vaccination clinic at Liberty Ranch High School in Galt was a perfect example of collaboration between various agencies, including the Galt and Herald school districts, the Cosumnes Fire Department and volunteers for a very important cause,” CFD Fire Chief Felipe Rodriguez said. “In only a few hours, we were able to vaccinate almost 1,200 Sacramento County residents and educators. In just a matter of a few weeks, all who were vaccinated will very likely have the required antibodies to fight off COVID-19. It was definitely an emotional day for those who endured 2020, a year that has proven to be the most challenging year of our lives. Job well done.”
Those utilizing the Feb. 24 clinic received the first round of the Moderna vaccine, which requires a second shot. Organizers hope to return to administer that second round for these participants the week of March 24.
Twelve hundred vaccinations were available by appointment, which were first made available to local educators, then opened to community members who qualified under the county’s Tier 1A-1B plan.
“With the assistance of over 60 volunteers and collaborative partnerships with the city of Galt and area school districts, the Cosumnes Community Services District was able to vaccinate 1,163 residents within Phases 1A and 1B of the Sacramento County Public Health’s vaccination plan,” CSD Assistant Chief of EMS Rick Clarke said.
Many celebratory cries could be heard throughout the event, many of those came from local educators.
According to GJUHSD Director of Educational Services Sean Duncan 730 vaccines were administered to educational staff across the four districts, 156 of which were high school district staff members, equating to just under 50% of its staff.
“We are really grateful for the Cosumnes Community Services District,” Duncan said during the event. They’re the ones that are running this event, we’re just really the host for the event. So, we’re really happy to be partnering with them as well as the surrounding districts. It’s been great.”
Duncan said that although the vaccine was not a necessary step in reopening district campuses, it would greatly increase the safety of both staff and students.
“We really want to get back to work,” Duncan said. “We want to get students back in the classroom as quickly as possible. We’re ready to open up as soon as we move into the red tier. The vaccine is not necessary but is just one more layer of protection.”
GJUESD Superintendent Karen Schauer told The Galt Herald that over 600, approximately 60%, of the elementary district’s staff received vaccinations at the event.
“I was genuinely moved and grateful to see so many of our staff members participate in this event with community members,” Schauer said. “The fact that this large COVID vaccination event could take place in Galt was incredibly powerful. This event demonstrated why our community is truly a Great American Little Town. The various local and regional agencies coming together so quickly, efficiently and flexibly was incredible.”
Among those volunteering at the event were GJUESD health staff.
“I am especially proud and grateful to our school district health team who vaccinated [at the event],” Schauer said.
Arcohe Principal/Superintendent Troy Miller said that 33 members of his staff received the vaccine Feb. 24.
“As I was at the event yesterday, I just noticed this excited energy from all the volunteers, school personnel and people getting the vaccine,” Miller said. “It seems like there is this huge sense of relief that we are nearing the end of this situation with the hope that we will continue to pull out of the worst parts of the past year. I just keep thinking of the millions of others who are still in need of the vaccine but am so encouraged by what I saw yesterday. I cannot thank the other school district personnel and the Cosumnes Fire District enough for coming together to make this happen so seamlessly.”
All those receiving the vaccine stayed in their vehicles from start to finish. The first station they stopped at was to check in with volunteers to make sure their paperwork was in order. Once paperwork was complete, participants were then directed to one of five lines of 25 where they waited for medical volunteers to give them their shot.
After receiving their shot, participants were asked to wait in their vehicles for 15-30 minutes so medical personnel could monitor for any adverse reactions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone who had a severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine should not receive the second dose.
According to CDC, allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare.
For more information on vaccines, call Sacramento County public health’s COVID-19 hotline at (916) 875-2400 or visit www.SacCounty.net/COVID-19.