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KCHD encourages local educators to get vaccinated

All Districts — Hoping to educate and encourage local educators about the COVID-19 vaccine, the Kent County Health Department held a town hall for educators last week. All county and district staff members were invited to take part, as the health department continues its quest to make sure that everyone involved with county schools is able to be inoculated.

Those who missed it can view the video online.

Dr. Karla Black, emergency preparedness coordinator for Kent County, used simple diagrams to explain the science behind how the vaccine works and how it was developed so quickly. 

“Safety is a huge priority in all phases of vaccine development,” said Black, who noted that the 2001 SARS epidemic prepared scientists well for the novel coronavirus. That year, scientists prepared lots of research on this type of vaccine, but were not able to use it to create a vaccine because the outbreak subsided. 

“This pandemic brought the scientists of the world together, using all research to make this possible,” she said. 

Black also addressed misinformation about the vaccine, explaining that it does not utilize a live virus, will not integrate into a person’s DNA and has no embedded microchip.

During the presentation, KCHD offered initial statistics from vaccine-makers Pfizer and Moderna that show the currently available vaccines offer up to 95% effectiveness against the virus. This is significantly higher than yearly flu vaccines, which are typically between 40% and 50% effective. 

Kent County Medical Director Dr. Nirali Bora

Kent County Medical Director Dr. Nirali Bora said more than 64,000 county residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, and more than 18,000 are fully vaccinated with both doses. 

“That is only 10% of the adult population in Kent County; we still need to be careful such as wearing masks, social distancing, getting tested and isolating if exposed,” she said.

“We are now able to provide vaccines for anyone on your staff,” Bora told educators, noting that the pace of vaccinations is speeding up. “The benefits far outweigh the risks.” 

County officials also praised the remarkable collaboration between the KCHD and school districts during the ongoing pandemic.

“Both the health department and schools are important to a community, and both value getting children educated and staying healthy,” said Joann Hoganson, who serves as liaison between the KCHD and county schools. “We will do anything we can do to keep schools open and you will do anything you can do to keep students healthy. Know we are your partners for reliable health information and we want to work with you.”

Added Bora: “I am impressed by what teachers need to do to keep kids safe and emotionally healthy. I am excited for more of you to get vaccinated.”

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst is a reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio

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