The COVID-19 pandemic won’t end by wishing it away or proclaiming it over.
Science will bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end. Proven ways to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus – such as wearing face masks – are basic steps everyone can continue to take, for example.
And in recent weeks, science made a big leap forward with the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Today, Des Moines Public Schools rolled up its sleeves to let science begin its work.
Thanks to MercyOne, just over 1,000 first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were administered to DMPS employees, representing 20% of the school district’s staff.
A small army of MercyOne health professionals created a pop-up clinic in the gymnasium at Central Campus, where they were busy filling syringes, administering vaccines, and filing everyone’s paperwork so they can return in three weeks for the second dose.
Meanwhile, a number of DMPS employees volunteered their Saturday to support the effort by directing traffic, helping their colleagues get checked in, and monitoring the waiting area to make sure no one showed any side effects.
Despite the blustery winter weather, a steady flow of people arrived throughout the day at Central Campus: 12 vaccine appointments every five minutes. Interest, and demand, for the vaccine has been strong among DMPS employees. A recent survey found nearly 80% planned to get vaccinated while most of the rest simply wanted more information. When appointments for today’s clinic were available the time slots filled up in 17 minutes.
Diane Gladson, the health services supervisor at DMPS, has been one of the people quarterbacking the effort to get more teachers and staff vaccinated. While school districts have no say in the allocation of the vaccine, regular contact with the Polk County Health Department and local health care providers has been important to let officials know of the need and interest now that people working in PK-12 education are eligible to be vaccinated.
Gladson expects that there will be additional vaccine clinics, specifically for DMPS employees, in the days ahead. She also encourages teachers and staff to regularly visit the Polk County Health Department web site to check on the availability of appointments through them or their partners.
Saturday marked a milestone in taking a step forward in ending the pandemic and protecting people from COVID-19. While outside temperatures were in the single digits as a steady snow fell, inside Central’s gym the forecast was for brighter days ahead.