Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston and NC Governor Roy Cooper may not officially be pen pals.
But Alston has sent the governor a second letter in 2021 – this one requesting 15,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses to be given to the county’s school teachers and other education staff.
Alston had some luck with a request to Cooper recently when he convinced Cooper to come to Greensboro to witness Guilford County’s vaccination effort at Mount Zion Baptist Church. This second request, however, may be a little harder to get fulfilled since vaccine doses are hard to come by these days.
But Alston is definitely in the “There’s no harm in asking” school of thought, and he wants to see enough doses for public and private school educators.
Last week, Cooper announced that, on Wednesday, Feb. 24, teachers would become eligible for vaccinations in the state. Currently, vaccinations are limited – barring extenuating circumstances – to some health care workers and people 65 and over.
Even though teaches will become eligible on Feb. 24, county and school leaders know that does no good unless there are enough doses to carry out the needed vaccinations.
The Tuesday, Feb. 16 letter, which was also directed to NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, states: “In addition to our population and equity allotments, we ask that the state consider allocating two supplemental allocations of 7,500 doses for the assignment weeks of March 4th and March 11th from the state’s holdback supply designated for mass vaccination events. Receipt of these additional 15,000 doses over the two-week distribution window will allow us to complete a rapid push to vaccinate all our k-12 teachers and staff as schools re-open.”
Alston pointed out that Guilford County has the third-largest public-school district in the state, with more than 10,000 K-12 staff – and thousands more educators who work in private schools, charter schools and at childcare centers. With those workers added in, Alston stated in the letter, Guilford County has a total of about 15,000 educators who qualify under the new eligibility guidelines.
Alston noted that, while Guilford County is working hard to reduce the spread of the virus, the county is still seeing community spread. Alston noted that this additional vaccine allocation would help the county address that community spread issue in schools, protect teachers and reduce school closures.
“With your recent announcement that vaccine opportunities for our educators and school personnel will be available after February 24, I am asking once again, on behalf of the full Board, for the state’s support to obtain additional vaccine allocations,” Alston wrote.
Alston also thanked Cooper for visiting the vaccine clinic at Mount Zion Baptist Church last week.
The two men know each other well and have a relationship that goes back two decades.
NC Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Response Leader Kody Kinsley, sent Alston a reply on Tuesday night.
“We are in receipt of your letter,” it read. “Thank you. We applaud your leadership and we are grateful for your continued partnership on behalf of North Carolinians. As you know, we are in receipt of many proposals for one-time events or efforts even while vaccine supply remains very constrained. However, please know that we will give great care to considering this one.”