TUPELO • Several dozen Tupelo Public School District teachers received COVID-19 vaccines at Church Street Elementary, Tuesday.

The vaccination event was held in partnership with Saltillo Pharmacy and Solutions, which offered doses of all three approved vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – for teachers who wanted them.

Laurie Bishop, science teacher and volleyball coach at Tupelo High School, opted to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She’d hoped to get the one-dose vaccine to be fully vaccinated after a single shot.

Bishop tested positive for the virus in February, so she waited the recommended period of time before receiving the vaccine. After getting the shot, she’s feeling confident and hopeful about the future.

“It’s just really exciting to hopefully be at the tail end of all of this so we can kind of start fresh in August and get to teach and interact with our kids in a more normal setting,” Bishop said.

Victoria Ashby, seventh through 12th grade English teacher for the Structured Day Program, also received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“I need to be protected for my students so that I can be there for my students,” she said. “That’s the most important part, because if I’m not there, they can’t learn for me. So I want to be there for them.”

Ashby had attempted to schedule a vaccination appointment earlier in the pandemic, but was unable to secure one She said she wanted to wait until demand for the vaccine calmed before scheduling another appointment.

“When (TPSD) sent the email out, that was like heaven to me,” Ashby said. She said the school district-sponsored vaccination event was most convenient for her.

“I’m ready for my kids to all be in the classroom so that I can reach them mentally, emotionally and physically,” Ashby said after receiving her vaccine. “So many of us have had hardships and distress because of COVID and because of virtual schooling, and I’ve had so many kids tell me ‘I’m really not able to learn a lot in virtual,’ so I want to be able to have my kids in the classroom. They need to be in the classroom.”

Out of the district’s 1,200 employees, just over 40 showed up to receive the vaccine, TPSD communications director Gregg Ellis said. Most of the district’s teachers have already received it.

K-12 teachers became eligible to receive the vaccine on March 1, so most teachers have had an opportunity to receive the vaccine over the past two months from Mississippi State Department of Health drive-thru locations or local clinics.

The district inquired previously about having vaccines administered to teachers at a school site, but weren’t able to work out locate a provider who could do it until now.

“It’s a service they wanted,” Ellis said of Tupelo teachers. “And when they’re in school all day, it’s hard to get out and schedule, so we were looking at ways to make it convenient for them.”

The pharmacy will return in three weeks to administer second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and again in four weeks to administer second doses of the Moderna vaccine.

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