KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - - The opportunity for school staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19 is drawing closer, and Truman Medical Center is working with seven area school districts to provide the shots in large numbers.

It was almost a month ago to the day that Truman Medical Center gave its first COVID-19 shot to a staff nurse. Medical staff were the first to get the vaccine based on Missouri’s roll-out plan.

Just last week, they moved on to EMTs and paramedics. Friday, they began the first round for emergency responders who are not EMS staff, people like police and firefighters.

“To date we've already done over 6,000 immunizations, because we can do them very efficiently,” said Charlie Shields, the CEO of Truman Medical Center.

He said his staff is now ironing out logistics to utilize their large medical staff to get the vaccine to teachers and other school staff at seven metro-area districts.

“What’s really great is we can set up with school systems in high school gymnasiums and set up a mass vaccination clinic and really do hundreds if not 1,000 a day in the school setting,” Shields said.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity,” said Yolanda Cargile, the superintendent of the Center School District.

Center started the year with a small number of students in school but went back to remote when numbers climbed in November. They have yet to go back. Cargile says they have a target date of February 17th but that’s not set in stone.

“When they have access to the vaccine and can get the vaccine then there’s a sense of security,” she said of teachers and other staff.

Even after vaccinations, the district will continue to follow CDC protocols like mask wearing.

There's not yet a date set for vaccinating school staff. That will depend on demand for the group ahead of them in the state's roll-out plan.

Missouri’s Phase 1A included health care workers, long-term care facilities and EMS workers.

Thursday, Governor Mike Parson announced the start of Phase 1B. First in that list are the police and firefighters. Next comes people aged 65 and up and those with co-morbidities. That can begin on January 18th. After that is essential workers, which includes teachers and school staff.

“We are hopeful that it will be offered early in February, but we're waiting for information from the state of Missouri,” said Cargile.

In addition to being CEO of Truman Medical Center, Shields is also the president of the Missouri Board of Education, so he’s well versed in the value of bringing kids back into school.

“The faster we can get teachers immunized and provide that level of immunity, the faster we can get those students back to full in-person learning,” he added.

The districts included in Truman Medical Center’s plan are the following: Kansas City, Center, Hickman Mills, Independence, Fort Osage, North Kansas City and Raytown.

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