Doctor: ‘Extremely exciting’ to be vaccinating Prince George’s County schools staff

Receiving the vaccine here is Desann Manzano-Lee, an instructional specialist for PGCPS. She was vaccinated at the Kaiser Permanente Lanham Rehabilitation Center. (Courtesy Kaiser Permanente)

From teachers and instructional specialists to bus drivers, Prince George’s County Public Schools employees now are receiving COVID-19 shots as part of Maryland’s Phase 1b vaccine plan that prioritizes educators and support staff.

The school system is contacting employees directly to give them registration links. Appointments are being made with either the county health department at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, or at the Kaiser Permanente Lanham Rehabilitation Center.

From a shots clinic Wednesday, Dr. Luis Ruiz said it’s “extremely exciting” to be vaccinating community members, particularly for essential services such as schools.

“We know that many families and children are struggling right now not being able to do (in person) education,” said Ruiz, a pulmonologist at Kaiser Permanente. “So, I think this is the beginning of allowing us to soon return safely to some degree of normalcy — in particular for our children in the community who need a safe and healthy environment to return back to learning.”

“It makes us proud to have Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States be able to support this huge, important vaccination program for our community in Prince George’s County,” Ruiz said.

Getting everyone fully vaccinated is expected to take six to eight weeks. When people receive their first shot, they’re then scheduled for a follow-up. Kaiser Permanente is administering the Moderna vaccine, which requires a booster shot after 28 days. The county is giving Moderna shots and also the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs a second shot at least 21 days after the initial dose.

In this photo, Constance Lewis, a bus driver for PGCPS, received her vaccine shot. (Courtesy Kaiser Permanente)

There may be adjustments to virtual learning classes as various people go to get vaccinated.

“Your child’s teacher will notify you of any changes in the learning schedule and I ask for your patience and understanding while staff takes part in this critical process,” PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson said in a letter to the school community.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PGCPS community has shown that we are in this together. I have greatly appreciated the support you have shown during these difficult times,” she said.

Goldson has said a transition to a hybrid teaching model might happen sometime this spring.

As COVID-19 vaccinations proceed, this is no time for residents to let their guards down. Ruiz wants to remind people that pandemic-related precautions must continue.

“Being vaccinated is one of the steps in terms of overcoming this pandemic,” Ruiz said. “We still need to focus on the basic simple steps that everyone can take, which includes safe distancing, hygiene and wearing a mask when around others.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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