'Beyond thrilled': Teachers, police officers next in line for vaccine in Santa Clara County

In Santa Clara County, teachers, food service workers and police officers are next in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

They become eligible starting Feb. 28.

"Beyond thrilled," said Allison Medlin, a teacher in San Jose. "Just delighted that this should mean the safe return to schools for us."

Medlin cried after hearing teachers in Santa Clara County can soon be vaccinated.

"This tunnel has been so long and dark, with the vaccine I think we are going to make it," said Medlin.

Health officials announced Santa Clara County is moving to Phase 1B in the state's system for who can be vaccinated. Beginning February 28, workers in three sectors: education and childcare, food and agriculture and emergency services can all get a shot.

"We’ve made this transition because we are making good progress vaccinating people in the county 65 and up," said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

Also, the county has vaccinated more than 50 percent of people 75 and older.

Jordan Joaquin is receiving hazard pay at Zanotto’s Food Market. 

"It allows me to have peace of mind to know that I’m safe," said Joaquin.

"I just hope we can get appointments quickly," said Celeste Smiley, a teacher in San Jose. "65 and older have been eligible for a long time and I know 65 and older people who haven’t been able to get an appointment."

Difficulty getting an appointment, long wait times, and vaccine supply are all concerns with vaccine distribution.

At the mass vaccination site at Levi’s Stadium on Wednesday, the backlog improved and the longest wait was 45 minutes.

"I did not have a long wait and I get the impression there’s enough vaccines," said Pamela Finney of San Jose.

"It’s difficult to be overly excited until we see the details and employees being vaccinated," said Jennifer Maddox, San Jose Unified public information officer.

Maddox is a spokeswoman for San Jose Unified, San Jose’s largest school district with nearly 30-thousand students. She said students could be back in class this school year possibly April once teachers get both doses.

"If we are able to get our employees vaccinated, we definitely want to go to an in-person learning model," said Maddox.

The only other way the district will resume in person learning is if Santa Clara County is in the orange tier. The county’s goal is to vaccinate 85 percent of people 16 and older by this summer.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at azenith.smith@foxtv.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.