School personnel in the Diocese of Covington grateful to receive first dose of vaccine

Laura Keener, Editor.

All Catholic school personnel in the Diocese of Covington that wanted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have received their first dose. Administrators, staff and faculty at St. Edward School in Harrison County received the COVID-19 vaccination Feb. 20. In Mason County, St. Patrick School personnel received their vaccines Feb. 21. And over the weekend, Jan. 30–31, all of the priests, administrators, staff and faculty working in Catholic schools in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties also received the vaccine.

“Things really went well. Kudos to Kendra McGuire and the Diocese for having things very organized for us in getting the schools scheduled,” said Suzi Francis, PharmD., pharmacist and supervisor of Ambulatory Clinical Pharmacy for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, about the weekend.

Mrs. Francis and her staff administered the vaccines at the St. Elizabeth Healthcare COVID vaccine clinic at its training center in Erlanger. She said that educators of various local school districts have been receiving vaccines the last several Saturdays and Sundays. This weekend approximately 1,500 Diocese of Covington school personnel — about 94 percent — received their first dose of the two-dose regimen. Diocese of Covington educators will receive their second dose or “booster,” as it is popularly referred to, in three weeks.

Vaccinating school personnel is Phase 1B of Governor Andy Beshear’s plan to distribute vaccines to Kentuckians and an important effort to safely maintain in-person instruction at the 30 primary and nine Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Covington.

“The schools have worked so hard to be in school and it really was a positive atmosphere this weekend with the teachers,” said Mrs. Francis.

Mrs. McGuire agreed and expressed gratitude to all those who have made the vaccine available.
“I am thankful to the governor for including Catholic schools as essential,” Mrs. McGuire said. “St. Elizabeth Healthcare was fantastic to work with through this whole process. Things just went so smoothly. I’ve heard from so many of our schools who are so thankful for what they have done and it worked well together. It was definitely a good feeling at the end of the weekend to know that the school personnel who wanted the vaccine were able to get it.”

Daine Roll, kindergarten teacher, St. Joseph School, Crescent Springs, smiles beneath her mask while she receives the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pam McQueen, principal, Villa Madonna Academy, Villa Hills, expressed the feelings of hope she and her faculty and staff felt after being vaccinated.

“During the vaccine administration, everyone was so very happy — and emotional,” Mrs. McQueen said. “We are always so hopeful, but there it was before us — the vaccine. Words cannot express the joy and relief held in our hearts.”

Bishop Roger Foys also expressed his gratitude for all those working together to mitigate the spread of the virus and to help keep the school communities healthy.

“I am so grateful that our school personnel and those associated with our schools were able to receive the much-anticipated vaccine,” said Bishop Foys. “I am likewise grateful to our St. Elizabeth Hospital for making the experience so positive and for their professionalism. We are so blessed to have a healthcare facility like St. Elizabeth. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to our superintendent of our Catholic School system, Mrs. Kendra McGuire and to our COVID-19 coordinator, Mrs. Laura Keener for their untiring work and attention to detail in their efforts to keep our students safe and in school. These are trying times, but working together and observing all the necessary protocols will keep us safe and healthy.”

Mrs. Francis offered encouragement for those who are anxiously awaiting their turn to get the vaccine.

“Vaccine supply continues to get better and better and our goal is to use over 90 percent of what we receive within seven days. We are working around the clock to make that happen,” she said. “As soon as we get the vaccine in, we get it to our community.”

In addition to school personnel, health care workers, first responders and persons age 70 or older can schedule their vaccination. Next is Phase 1C, which will include persons age 60 and older, persons age 16–64 with high-risk medical conditions and CDC-defined “essential workers.”

Mrs. Francis said Kentuckians should check the Northern Kentucky Health Department and St. Elizabeth Healthcare website for scheduling updates.

“As we are able to expand to other tiers and get the vaccine in, we will make sure that website is updated,” she said.