Waiting after their vaccine shots

Rhonda Hicks, left, a special needs teacher for Lawton Public Schools, and her teacher’s aide, Debby Warren, share some laughs while waiting to finish their 15 minutes of observations after their vaccine shot Thursday at Douglass Learning Center.

Rhonda Hicks hopes that by taking the COIVD-19 vaccine, that life can get back to normal soon.

Hicks was one of several Lawton Public Schools special education teachers who received the vaccine Thursday at Douglass Learning Center. The walk-in clinic was open to school nurses, severe and profound special education workers as part of the Phase 2 COVID-19 Vaccine Priority Population Framework for Oklahoma plan.

The Comanche County Health Department provided the vaccines to school nurses, special education workers, funeral home employees and health care providers.

While Hicks was able to get the vaccine Thursday, not all school employees can get it yet.

“The reason the special education educators with severe and profound students were able to get the vaccine this phase is because they are considered health care workers,” said Lynn Cordes, executive director of Communications of Lawton Public. “Not all educators or those in special education can get it right now.”

Hicks said she had been looking forward to getting the vaccine, not only to protect her special needs students, but her 87-year-old mother at home as well.

“This vaccine doesn’t just protect me, it protects the kids from me because I get out and about and do things and this will help, along with masking and other measures to protect the kids,” said Rhonda Hicks a special needs educator at Hugh Bish Elementary. “We work closely with the kids in our classroom. They’re special needs and they need one-on-one. We can’t talk to them from a distance, we have to get right up close to them and work with them hands-on.”

Hicks said many of her vulnerable students don’t like to wear masks, so she believes the vaccine will help keep them safer. She said it also makes it easier to visit her mother. What she is really expecting from the vaccine is a return to normalcy soon.

“Hopefully we get to return to more normalcy in our world,” Hicks said. “We need a return to normalcy so hopefully these shots work, and maybe we can eradicate or stop or at least slow down the virus.”

Debra Johnson, Comanche County Health Department spokesperson, said earlier this week that the vaccination plan and process is working better than anticipated. She said the department is ahead of schedule with Phase 2 of the rollout and expects to move on to adults age 65 and older, and adults of any age with comorbidities.

“We’re ahead of schedule and should move to the 65 and older group early next week,” Johnson said. “We’ve been assured by both vaccine manufacturers and the state that there will be plenty of vaccine to go around. We also want people to know that if they missed their group, they could still come to any walk-in clinic for the vaccine.”

Although ahead of schedule, the health department is unsure when they will be able to move to Phase 3 of the plan, which includes essential infrastructure workers.

Johnson asked that anyone wanting to keep up-to-date with the latest Comanche County vaccine information to follow their Facebook page. She said the page is continually updated with walk-in clinic times, dates and places.

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