Sighs of relief as Catholic school employees receive COVID-19 vaccine

 

Elizabeth Hinkebein, librarian at Saint Agnes School, received her COVID-19 vaccine from volunteer Alice Cowley, a family friend and member of St. Frances of Rome Church, at Broadbent Arena Jan. 21. Educators from Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville are scheduled to receive their first doses over the coming weeks. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

St. Agnes School librarian Elizabeth Hinkebein exclaimed, “This is the best thing I’ve done in 10 months,” after Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine was pressed into her left arm by volunteer Alice Cowley, a member of St. Frances of Rome Church.

Hinkebein was one of hundreds of Catholic school employees who received the first dose of the vaccine in a drive-through line at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center’s Broadbent Arena Jan. 21.

The mass-vaccination site, run by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, was a scene of organization and efficiency Jan. 21. Cars moved at quick intervals through the arena in six drive-through lanes.

Cars carrying Catholic school employees lined up six across on the floor of the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center’s Broadbent Arena Jan. 21 to receive COVID-19 vaccines from volunteers organized by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. (Record Photo By Marnie McAllister)

Non-clinical volunteers ushered educators through checkpoints to fill out forms before volunteer clinicians like Cowley administered the long-awaited injections.

Volunteer pharmacist Mark Britt, a member of St. Stephen Martyr Church, and volunteer Dr. Regina Puno, an anesthesiologist, sat quietly off to the side carefully filling syringes with the vaccine.

Asked about his volunteer service, Britt was quick to direct attention to his daughter, Bridget Britt, pointing out that she’s had a difficult job as an elementary school principal during the pandemic.

Pharmacist Mark Britt, a member of St. Stephen Martyr Church, filled a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness mass-vaccination site at Broadbent Arena Jan. 21 as Catholic school employees received the vaccine. (Record Photo By Marnie McAllister)

Bridget Britt, who leads St. Stephen Martyr School, said she’s proud of her dad for volunteering at the vaccination site, noting that he volunteered as soon as it opened.

Her school staff is scheduled to receive the vaccine Jan. 28.

“Our staff is really excited. I think people are just relieved,” she said. “Our staff here is older. They’ve been coming to work every day and they’ve made choices about not seeing their parents. They know we have a while left to go, but they see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“When I told our custodian yesterday that we have a date (for vaccinations) he had tears coming down,” she said through her own tears as she related the story.

Archdiocese of Louisville school employees, including those serving outside Jefferson County, are expected to be vaccinated over the next few weeks at the arena. They are being vaccinated along with Jefferson County Public School employees.

Superintendent of Catholic Schools Leisa Schulz said she’s grateful Catholic school employees are receiving the vaccine. Archdiocese of Louisville schools have operated mostly in person since the beginning of the current school year

“I am so grateful our Catholic school faculty and staff members are able to receive the vaccine early in the process.  This opportunity offers them another measure of mitigation against the virus,” she said. “They have gone above and beyond in their service and dedication to our students. I know this opportunity brings them a sense of relief and hope for the future.”

Volunteers like Britt’s father are still needed to help keep the vaccination process moving smoothly at Broadbent Arena. So far, about 4,000 people have helped out, said Kathy Turner, communications director for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. But both non-clinical helpers and those with clinical skills are needed.

About 80 volunteers are needed per shift and each shift is four hours long. Turner said that a person who gives at least 40 hours becomes eligible to receive a vaccine.

Non-clinical volunteers may serve as greeters, at check-in, as support staff and in other roles. More information about volunteering is available at Louisvilleky.gov.

 

Shannon Jones, a food service worker at St. John Paul II School, received her COVID-19 vaccine from volunteer nurse Amy Quinn at Broadbent Arena Jan. 21. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

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