New North Bay vaccination clinic launched for educators

A new vaccination clinic has launched to protect Sonoma County educators and move schools toward re-opening.

Any teacher- from preschool to college- who has direct contact with students is eligible immediately, along with any school employee age 70 or older.

"They don't need to be full-time, but they need contact on a fairly regular basis," said Jeff Harding from the Sonoma County Office of Education. "That could also include the school secretary who greets students at the door or the bus driver who brings them to campus."

Among those getting the shot Wednesday evening was school custodian Ty Dannenbring.

"It's not a magic bullet but it is a shield," smiled Dannenbring, who said the vaccine would ease his fears about seeing his parents. "This will allow me to see them more frequently and feel more safe being around them."

The clinic, at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park, opened on Monday with 100 doses.

By mid-week that had doubled.

Looking to the second week, it hopes to administer 500 daily doses, including elementary school teachers as well.

Over three months time, teachers will be added gradually by grade level.

Sonoma County has a pool of 17,000 educators.

"There's a level of anxiety that dissipates once you have that first shot and certainly after the second," said Harding, former superintendent in Mountain View- Los Altos and Healdsburg.

He came out of retirement to manage the Sonoma County effort. 

"It's all a matter of, can I get the vaccine I need to open the pipeline and get more people through," Harding admitted.

Vaccine allocations come from the state of California, via the county Public Health Department. 

"I'm so relieved," exulted Jeanne Sweet, after getting her injection.

Sweet has been a home daycare provider for 30 years.

Throughout the pandemic, she has continued operating- with caution and worry. 

"Getting the vaccine makes my whole family safer, my daycare kids safer, and their families feel safer," said Sweet emotionally. 

"I'm protected and it's great."

The vaccines are administered by a rotation of about 40 school nurses.

"You say, are you doing okay and they squeal how excited they are," said Renee Laberge, a school nurse in West Sonoma County. "It's an unusual response to getting a vaccine but it really sums it up!"

The nurses are accompanied by college nursing students, gaining valuable experience.

"It's just an amazing opportunity to be here and be part of something like this, feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Hailey Gilson, a Sonoma State University senior, being mentored by Laberge.

In just a few days, Harding has noticed how much joy the vaccine brings to people.

"It's a deeply emotional kind of feeling," he said, muted by masks, but still evident.

"I know it's there, I can see it in their eyes, I can see it in the way they walk, I know its there."

For a preschool teacher rolling up her sleeve, vaccination represents a turning point.

"I might actually go to a restaurant and eat outside, which I have not done yet," said Catherine McCracken Jones.

"I'm hoping if enough people get immunized, we can relax and maybe teach next year without masks."

Debora Villalon is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Debora at and follow her on Twitter@DeboraKTVU