Teacher and Student Thoughts on COVID Vaccines

Caroline Stickney

For the March issue of The Chronicle, we asked a couple teacher’s about their experiences pertaining to the COVID vaccine. Here’s what they had to say.


Erica Gilliland, English, Grades 10 & 11


Do you plan on doing any activities that you’ve previously avoided due to COVID?


No, I’m still going to feel like we’re in a pandemic.


Have your feelings towards full-time school changed after you’ve been vaccinated?


I feel better about it, but also none of [the students] have vaccines, so that doesn’t help them.


How did the vaccine affect you physically?


I’ve only gotten the first one, and I’m kind of preparing for the worst after the second one. What I understand is that if you’ve been exposed to it, then the first shot is really bad because you’re actually reacting to it. Apparently I hadn’t been exposed, so for the first shot my arm hurt for a few days, but it’s not that bad. I’m preparing to be like flu-sick after the second one. I felt a little brain foggy after the first vaccine and Ms. Fleetwood (Amanda Fleetwood, 9th grade English teacher) said the same thing after she got hers. So, I felt that my arm was a little sore and I was more confused than I usually am. 


Was it difficult to find a vaccine location?


In Kansas, each county gets the same number of doses, even though there’s a difference in population. So, a little county in western Kansas gets the same number of deliveries each round as Johnson County or Douglas County. It seems like they’re wasting vaccines in the west and we don’t have enough in places where there’s more people. Because of that, Olathe had to do even more restrictions on which teachers are eligible first, and I didn’t feel like I was ever going to get it through the district because I’m not top priority and the numbers are low in Johnson County. I decided I needed to get it before students came back full-time in-person (at least one shot), because my dad is so susceptible. He had lung cancer, and had a lobectomy, and hasn’t left the house in a year. I’ve been staying away from him, and I can’t see him if I don’t have at least one vaccine, and students are all here all day. So, I would check daily at Johnson country places who were accepting. I was eligible through the state, but not through the district [E.D. Note: At the time of this publication, every Olathe District teacher has been given the opportunity to be vaccinated]. I went to Atchison and got it, after that week of snow and ice delayed vaccines. My solution was to protect me and my family first, and I wasn’t going to wait for Olathe.


Carrie Parazin, Counseling


Do you plan on doing any activities that you’ve previously avoided due to COVID?


I think it’s going to depend, because my kids are not vaccinated, so I’m still probably going to be pretty cautious as far as how much I go and do. I do think I’ll feel more comfortable spending time with my other friends who have been vaccinated, so that’s going to be nice. My book club, we can actually get together and possibly be in a house, because we’re all teachers and counselors, so we’ve all been vaccinated. But, I don’t know if I’m going to change too much until I feel like a little bit more of the population has been vaccinated.


Have your feelings towards full-time school changed after you’ve been vaccinated?


I do probably feel a little better knowing I have kids in my office because it was pretty hard to keep them a safe distance away. However, we were always masked. But I wasn’t too worried about it, because I usually only have one kid in my office at a time, so it’s a little different for the teachers. I mean, you’re talking about 20-25 kids, that’s a lot of kids in your room. But I do feel that the teachers think they’re more comfortable  with it as well, just knowing they’ve been vaccinated. I do think it’s helpful that we all keep our masks on too.


How did the vaccine affect you physically?


After the first one, I was fine, I just had a really sore arm. But then about a week later, my arm got really red and swelled up where they had given me the vaccine, which was a little weird. And then after a couple of days, it went away. When I got my second dose, which was about two weeks ago, I was just really tired and I got a really bad headache. So, it wasn’t horrible.


What was the process like getting vaccinated?


It was actually really smooth. The three big districts teamed up together, and Children’s Mercy vaccinated teachers in the county. You would just get an email that said you were eligible and then you would sign up for a time and fill out your survey. I went – process was really smooth, there was no line – you got in, you got your shot, you waited your fifteen minutes, and then you headed out. You know, you’ll see on TV all those pictures of people waiting 3 hour or 4 hour lines, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was pretty smooth.