Faculty begin vaccinations

By Ryder Lariviere

As COVID-19 rages across the state, the vaccine roll-out in Marin County to frontline workers, including faculty and staff at Branson, offers a glimmer of hope.


During a weekend in January, the Branson vaccination program, in coordination with the Marin County Office of Education, offered to vaccinate 26 faculty members. Of the 26 selected, 22 ended up being vaccinated, marking an important milestone in Branson’s return to “normal.”


David Hanson, Branson’s chief financial and operating officer, said that the goal of the vaccination program was “to get our employees vaccinated as fast as we can” and “to make sure students, faculty and staff not only felt safe but were safe on this campus.”


Marin County initially set up a vaccine prioritization system for people in the Phase 1A and 1B groups. These included health care personnel, frontline essential workers (educators), and people over the age of 65. 


Hanson said that priority at Branson was “given to individuals who often interfaced with the campus.” He said Branson’s priority covered “all of our facilities crew, our janitorial staff, our bus drivers and then any employee over age 65, and then to teachers by alphabetical order.” 


However, since Jan. 26, with increasing mortality rates, anyone 75 or older are now the only ones eligible for a vaccine. This is still subject to change according to Marin Health and Human Services. 


Due to the limited number of doses, only a small percentage of Marin County’s population are able to receive the vaccine every week. Of the 270,000 residents living in Marin, only 14 percent, or about 36,000 people, have been vaccinated with the first dose. With this shortage and new distribution guidelines, Branson’s vaccination program is currently at a standstill.


“Because they reprioritized the vaccine program, we’re on hold waiting to find out when the next group of teachers will be invited for a vaccine,” Hanson said.


Meanwhile, Mark Carlson, Branson’s freshman/sophomore boys basketball coach, who received the first dose of the vaccine during Branson’s first vaccination wave, described the vaccination process as ‘flawlessly organized.’ 


“In all, it took less than 30 minutes for me to arrive, get checked in, receive the shot, spend 15 minutes being observed, and to return to my car,” he said.


Carlson further hopes the impact of the vaccination program will eventually provide a safer environment for the entire Bulls community.


“Hopefully it will go a long way in getting our society on the path to safely returning to our daily lives, without too much concern or hesitation,” he said.”


Kathy Soave, a retired marine biology teacher who is filling in for Peter Zdrojewski, who also received the vaccine, hopes the vaccinations are supplied quickly for those that want it, and that people take the time to realize that it’s a very safe and effective way of suppressing this disease.


“With those two things, I think that we will come out of the other side in a good place, and the more we lag behind on either of them, the more people are going to suffer, and that’s a really sad thing,” she said.