Mason Staff, select students prioritized for COVID vaccine

Rilee Malloy | Staff Writer

 Knowing when a COVID-19 vaccine would be readily available was a shot in the dark for healthcare professionals last March. 

Now, almost a year later, Mason City Schools (MCS) staff and some students are in a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

As frontline workers in high-risk locations such as nursing homes, some Mason High School students were in a position to be one of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. MCS staff were soon to follow as the state of Ohio categorized educators as frontline workers. 

Junior Gabby McCowan has been working at Mason Christian Village for four months. After finding out that her place of employment would be one of the first to be vaccinated in December, she received her first dose of the Pfizier vaccine on January 18 2021 and her second dose on February 8 2021. 

Although most employees and residents of Mason Christian Village have been vaccinated, the retirement community is still following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks to ensure safety of their residents. McCowan said that she is grateful that as a frontline worker she was one of the first to receive the vaccine and that she was able to do her part in keeping the residents, her friends and family safer. 

“The atmosphere at Mason Christian Village is very welcoming and joyful,” McCowan said. “The residents can feel more safe knowing that the workers coming in are more protected than they were before and [the staff] have a lesser chance of bringing the virus in.” 

MCS staff received their first round of the vaccine on February 16 2021. Public Information Officer Tracey Carson said that staff were given the option to choose. Out of 1300 total staff members, 1158 said yes to getting the vaccine. 

While Mason Christian Village offered gift cards as incentives for their employees to get the vaccine, Carson said that for most staff members, the vaccine alone was incentive enough. 

Sixty healthcare workers from Premiere Health came to assist school nurses on the day of MCS vaccination. Carson is grateful that MCS and other school districts have become a priority for vaccination to the state of Ohio. 

“Some states have not prioritized educators in this frontline staff,” Carson said. “We are really thankful that the state has prioritized [educators].” 

Carson and McCowan are both thankful they have been given the opportunity to take the vaccine, but for different reasons. McCowan said that she was happy she could protect the ones around her whereas Carson expressed she was grateful to see that a staff that has done so much for Mason students was prioritized — especially when educators were not a priority in many other states. 

Although only working at Mason Christian Village for four months, McCowan said that taking the vaccine was a way to give back to the people that had impacted her in a short amount of time. 

“Working here and making relationships with these residents has changed my life,” McCowan said. “I am so happy that by taking this vaccine I can keep them all safer.” 

Carson said that this year MCS staff has made the seemingly impossible possible, and she hopes that as more people become vaccinated, more students have access to the same opportunities Mason students have had amidst learning in a pandemic. 

“Our staff has moved mountains,” Carson said. “Schools are so integral to the health of an entire community so we are very grateful that in Ohio our state recognized the critical role that these really selfless people play in making things work.”

Photo by Mikayla Poteet