More than two months after Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for hospital frontline workers, Santa Clarita Valley educators were next in line Monday to receive their shots.
The hospital officially launched its vaccine clinic for local educators as it wraps up the inoculation of health care workers, according to Henry Mayo spokesman Patrick Moody.
On Friday, Los Angeles County Public Health officials announced that starting Monday, three additional sectors can now get vaccinated: education and childcare workers, food and agriculture workers, and emergency services and law enforcement workers.
At this time, Henry Mayo will only vaccinate those in the education sector across Santa Clarita Valley-based school districts, including private schools, according to Dr. Bud Lawrence, medical director of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s Emergency Department.
“Anyone who has contact with students (can get the vaccine). That would also be custodians, coaches, lunch ladies and people who work in the offices,” said Lawrence.
The first in line Monday was Jim Klipfel, a social studies teacher and swim coach at Saugus High School who was named California Teacher of the Year in 2019. After receiving his vaccine, he said he was “immensely grateful,” adding he is looking forward to seeing his students in person when the time arrives after nearly a year of teaching remotely and to small cohorts on campus.
“It’s that human feeling and the presence of young people, and knowing that we’re getting closer to reality. It’s very exciting,” he said.
Klipfel received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and he’s due to return for his second dose in three weeks. He will be joined by 3,500 other SCV educators to get vaccinated this week, according to Lawrence.
“Each of the fellow superintendents received feedback from our educators to let them know just what a relief had been lifted off their shoulders that we finally arrived at the moment to take this next step,” said Mike Kuhlman, William S. Hart Union High School District superintendent. “I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the partnership we enjoy with Henry Mayo Newhall hospital, and how much of a unique thing it is for us to have such a beautiful community connection.”
L.A. County Public Health officials said Friday they expected to attain 269,000 doses to be distributed this week, of these, 103,000 will be provided for first doses.
The hospital’s vaccination expansion to new sectors comes after the FDA approved Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, which does not require special refrigeration nor a second dose. The federal government could start rolling out about 4 million doses of the newly approved vaccine this week.
Henry Mayo will continue using the Pfizer vaccine as the hospital is capable of handling the “more complicated, two-dose, ‘have to keep it cold’ vaccine,” said Lawrence.
To learn more about the vaccination process and who qualifies, visit the county’s vaccine website here.