Vaccination Sensation

EPS District teachers elated to receive their vaccination to ward off COVID-19


This is the feeling that hundreds of Elkhorn Public School’s teachers felt after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, March 6.

Teachers line up outside of Millard North High School prior to their 9am appointments. Photo by Kayla Anderson

Many states began allowing access to the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for educators after President Joe Biden began a federal push on March 2 to have as many teachers vaccinated as possible by the end of the month. And Nebraska school districts didn’t hesitate; public school officials began the tireless effort of signing thousands of employees up to receive their shots the following weekend.

“Personally, I am extremely grateful for Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour’s leadership and sense of urgency to move teachers up on the list.  I also believe that Elkhorn teachers are fortunate to have Superintendent Habrock and Executive Director of Student Services, Mrs. Anne Doerr, in our corner as they are persistently working to protect our teachers.” said Elkhorn South Principal Mark Kalvoda 

Teachers were quick to act upon their vaccination offer from the district. 

“On Saturday, I allowed myself to appreciate the significance of the vaccine. In my 25 years of teaching, this past calendar year has been the most challenging and uncertain for students and teachers alike.” said English teacher, Melissa Simons.

Exactly one year after Nebraska confirmed its first case of Coronavirus, a vaccine clinic dedicated to educators was organized at Millard North High School from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. With thousands of educators in attendance, and a whopping 2,000+ people vaccinated by 4 p.m. The feeling of excitement in the high school gymnasium was evident.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up a bit sitting with [my husband] in that Millard North auditorium during our 15-minute waiting period, watching so many of our fellow educators filter in after receiving their dose. The joy in the room was palpable.” science teacher Vanessa Dreessen said. Dreessen, and her husband are both educators within the district. 

And although the vaccine was a long awaited event amongst educators, once teachers arrived at Millard North, they didn’t have to wait much longer.

“I was very impressed with how smooth their set up was and how they were able to get teachers in and vaccinated quickly and efficiently” said special education teacher, Kara Vandersnick.

English teacher Brian Vance also commented on the efficiency of the clinic. 

The process could not have been simpler or more efficient. I began by receiving informational material about the vaccine, then a formal check-in, and then straight into the gym where the shots were administered.  There was no waiting, so I walked right up and within seconds the shot was over. We had to then wait for 15 minutes to make sure there were no immediate reactions to the shot, and then we were free to go on our way.” Vance said.

Some teachers felt an overwhelming sense of comfort, knowing that they will be able to reconnect with family members that they haven’t been able to see throughout the past year for fear of spreading the virus to them.

“My parents are also vaccinated so now I can have dinner with them and give them hugs without worrying about [it being detrimental to] their health. It has been over a year since I have been able to do this.” said science teacher Kelli Barth. 

Barth was also grateful that she no longer has to fear contracting the virus; as in-person educators are faced with this possibility every day.

“Throughout this past year, I have had a constant fear of getting a severe form of COVID, getting hospitalized, intubated, or worse, dying and leaving my kids without a mother. The Johnson and Johnson shot has shown to be above 90% effective after 55 days in preventing hospitalization and death. I am so happy to survive this pandemic with no lasting and permanent damage. I know others were not nearly as lucky” Barth said. 

And despite the palpable excitement surrounding the vaccine, the 24-hour period following the vaccine was a rough period for some, with teachers experiencing mild to severe discomfort due to side effects. 

Spanish teacher Molly D’Agosta recounts her experience. 

Really my whole body hurt. I had a massive headache, I felt nauseous, my shoulders and neck hurt.” D’Agosta said “Believe it or not, I am actually still achy. I just keep telling myself that it is better for me, my family, my students, and the community in the long run”

Vance also experienced similar side effects from his dose. 

Later that evening I started to get chills, and spent close to two hours with my teeth chattering uncontrollably, which eventually led to a fever ranging from 100-103.” Vance said. 

Side effects with the virus, like COVID symptoms can be sporadic and some people’s experiences were more mild, or nonexistent all together. 

“Everybody is different. Some don’t feel anything. Others feel [like they were] run over by a truck. It all works.” explained science teacher, Peter Cosimi. 

But the consensus remains: teachers were more than happy to deal with the side effects from the shot versus suffering through COVID and spreading it to their loved ones. After Saturday, educators began feeling, for the first time in a long time, hope, that the pandemic, masks and all, will soon be a distant memory.

“It’s like there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. We can finally see an end to all of this, and I’m looking forward to being able to see my students’ entire faces, and their smiles, next year.” said English teacher, Alyssa Grell.


Click below to view a gallery of ESHS teachers & Staff who were thrilled to receive their vaccine!