Vaccinations set to begin for Des Moines teachers

The Biden administration plans to expand the ranks of people who can administer COVID-19 vaccines. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Some Des Moines educators will get their first COVID-19 shots on Friday and Saturday as Iowa enters its next phase of vaccine distribution.

Des Moines Public Schools announced in a Tuesday email to staff that the first clinic providing vaccinations would take place on Saturday.

“This first clinic will be to provide both a first and, in three weeks, a second dose to 500 employees, so 10% of staff,” DMPS Director of Communications Phil Roeder wrote in an email

Des Moines Public Schools partnered with MercyOne to organize the clinic. Vaccines will be administered by Polk County Health Department and Medicap and Hy-Vee pharmacy staff at Central Campus in downtown Des Moines. 

Only 500 doses will be available on Saturday for teachers, administrators and operational staff, like bus drivers and cafeteria workers. Sign-ups for the shots will begin Wednesday.

“This is a significant development in protecting our health and well-being as we go about our work, and everyone at Des Moines Public Schools is encouraged to get vaccinated,” DMPS Health Services Supervisor Diane Gladson said in a Tuesday email to staff.

Both Roeder and Gladson emphasized that the scope and frequency of clinics will depend on vaccine availability. 

“We ask for everyone’s patience as the availability of both clinics and appointments depend upon the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine which, of course, is out of our hands,” she wrote in her email to staff. 

Gladson encouraged staff members to take advantage of vaccination opportunities through primary care providers when possible. Roeder said about 150 staff members, including some school nurses and social workers, have been or plan to be vaccinated through other channels.

Teachers and staff at Catholic schools in the Des Moines metro will also be eligible for vaccines this week through a partnership with UnityHealth. Dowling Catholic High School will host a vaccination clinic Friday afternoon for teachers and staff of Catholic parochial schools in the metro, according to a Tuesday statement.

Teachers and staff must sign up in advance for a shot. Dowling Catholic Communications Manager Tara Nelson said she did not know how many doses will be available on Friday.

Our hope is that all our teachers and staff choose to be vaccinated because this is an important step in protecting the health and safety of our community,” the statement read.

The vaccination process for educators begins less than two weeks before Iowa schools are expected to offer 100% in-person options. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine require two doses administered several weeks apart to be most effective.