HAMPTON, Va. — In one week, more than 2,500 people received COVID-19 vaccinations with the help of school nurses and EMS staff members.
"It's beautiful," said Hampton city manager Mary Bunting. "It's really, really beautiful."
The Hampton and Peninsula Health Districts share similar concerns as other regions across the state. Health care workers need more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and more people to administer the shots.
"We know that our health department did not have enough vaccinators," said Bunting, who said the vaccinating frontline and essential workers remains the region's focus.
That's when Bunting pitched an idea to Hampton City Schools.
"What if I put in our EMS providers and you put in your school nurses?" she said. "We train them up and we can go further, faster."
And a partnership began.
Twenty-five Hampton City Schools nurses and 50 EMS providers trained and received certificates to administer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The city and school district then hosted joint vaccination clinics for teachers, first responders, and other essential staff.
"They were all like, 'We just want to be a part of the solution to bring light at the end of the tunnel,'" said Bunting.
On Friday alone, more than 1,200 people received vaccinations, according to Bunting.
Hampton City Schools remain in virtual learning, making school nurses available to assist with the clinics. The city will pay EMS staffer overtime for working on their days off.
"I'm just really proud that Hampton has the relationship with its school district that we can work as one Hampton family to take care of our frontline workers and essential personnel," she said.
However, the move is more than an effort to build a vaccination team and increase efficiency. Hampton officials want to prove to the Virginia Department of Health that it is ready and capable of vaccinating the general public, when adequate doses become available.
"Right now we are limited by the vaccination supply, but we want to be able to whatever we can for when that time comes," she said.