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East Tennessee school districts roll out staff vaccination plans

Teachers and other school staff become eligible for vaccine across Tennessee Monday.

CLINTON, Tenn. — Tens of thousands of Tennessee teachers will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination Monday, and school districts are beginning to implement plans to get their staff shots.

Starting Monday, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will begin making the COVID-19 vaccine available for Knox County Schools employees, including teachers.

The school system will prioritize which employees go first, according to the hospital.

This sign-up is not open to the general public.

In Anderson County, the school district will accept, prepare and administer the vaccine itself. 

"Which is kind of going out on a limb, but I’m excited to do it so that way we’ll be able to vaccinate as quick as possible," school nursing director Kathryn Price said. 

The district has purchased refrigerators that will be monitored electronically 24/7 to store the boxes of vaccine. Price plans an all-day vaccination clinic on a Friday after the first doses arrive. 

In Sevier County, a school district spokesperson said staff who expressed interest in the vaccine would receive an appointment time to get a shot from the health department by the end of the day Friday. 

Shots will be administered starting Wednesday of next week, he said, adding that staff are "just tickled" to be able to get vaccinated. 

Maryville City Schools along with several other Blount County districts have partnered with Blount Memorial Hospital for vaccinations starting next week. 

"I was thrilled," said longtime first grade teacher Elisabeth Bellah. "Now I won't have to drive two hours to get it."

The school district's health coordinator said teachers have been waiting for the shots every since it became available in December. 

"It’s going to make them a better teacher because they’re going to have less fear less anxiety as it relates to COVID," Heather Ledbetter said.

Bellah just wants life to get back to normal.

"The weight of the fact that it really is not normal, that this has been a really tough year. I will be very excited to have that lifted," she said.