Educators start to receive vaccinations

Jonesboro School District Superintendent Kim Wilbanks receives her vaccination from Tina Hayes, a nurse at St. Bernards Total Life Healthcare late Wednesday night.

JONESBORO — Some educators have begun to receive their vaccinations earlier than expected.

Jonesboro Superintendent William Cheatham said it was Wednesday when a representative of St. Bernards Healthcare reached out to administrators at Jonesboro Public Schools.

“... Governor (Asa Hutchinson) came out Monday and said we will start vaccinations on the 18th,” Cheatham said. “St. Bernards contacted us Wednesday and said they have 135 vaccinations available.”

St. Bernards Media Relations Manager Mitchell Nail said as soon the announcement was made it was time to extend the vaccination services to them.

“So far,” Nail said Friday afternoon, “we have been able to vaccinate 400 educators.”

Cheatham said the district had sent out surveys. “I was able to send invites out (to teachers) on Wednesday.”

Nail said inoculations will continue next week. St. Bernards has reached out to six school districts to supply vaccinations.

“We are vaccinating Nettleton, Jonesboro, Bay, Blessed Sacrament, Valley View and Westside,” Nail said. “This is a service we couldn’t be happier to provide to our educators. They are an incredibly important demographic to have vaccinated.”

Some schools have partnered with multiple facilities to ensure all their employees receive vaccines, said Nail.

Westside Superintendent Scott Gauntt said the district is scheduled to receive vaccines next week.

“We have 150 educators; some have already gotten it,” Gauntt said. “We have reached out to a secondary vaccination source in case St. Bernards can’t get all our employees.”

Gauntt said Woodsprings Pharmacy would also be administering vaccines to Westside employees.

Bay School Superintendent Luke Lovins confirmed some of his educators had already begun receiving vaccinations, as did Valley View Superintendent Bryan Russell.

Nail said the only downside to moving to the next phase of the state vaccination plan is the hospital does not know how many doses they are going to receive.

“One positive is we have been able to go through doses without wasting any,” he said. “That is a big focal point, making sure every dose counts.”