Teachers, school staff receive vaccinations for COVID-19

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Felipe Garcia, a member of the maintenance staff at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, 720 W. Belmont Ave., was among the teachers and staff members who received vaccination injections at the school on Feb. 24, 2021.(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

When Daughter of Mary Immaculate of Guadalupe Claudia Carrillo, principal of Immaculate Conception School, 8739 S. Exchange Ave., learned that she and her fellow sisters who teach at the school could receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, she jumped at the chance.

“If we could be vaccinated, it’s a protection for everyone, so as soon as we learned we could have it we said, ‘Yes, let’s go for it,’” she said on Feb. 18 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine at Friend Health Medical Center, 800 E. 55th St.

Most of the students at her school are doing in-person learning, so she is doing everything she can to keep everyone safe, Sister Claudia said. Her teachers are also registering through the Archdiocese of Chicago’s program for vaccinations that was announced the week of Feb. 15.

“I see them mainly looking forward,” she said. “I see them very positive about it.”

Sister Claudia is a native of Mexico, and when she visited there in January, she saw the effects COVID-19 is having on her home country. She said it is expensive there to get a rapid COVID-19 test, and it takes a long time to get the results of the free ones.

“Since people are very family-oriented, they just share with one another, ‘Oh, I feel this, I feel that.’ And they give remedies to one another,” Sister Claudia said.

That results in people not seeking the medical attention they may need if they have COVID. There was a large outbreak there after Christmas, she said.

“I have worked in different schools in Mexico because of my religious order, and one of the teachers reached out to me,” Sister Claudia said. “It was so sad. First the mom got it, then she got it. Then the mom passed away and an aunt that was coming to bring meals to them also got it and then she passed away. So the only one to survive was the teacher.”

People in urban areas of Mexico also rely heavily on bus transportation to get to work, which makes for easier transmission of the virus, she said.

“It’s difficult,” she said. “It’s just hard.”

Sister Claudia encouraged people in the Latino immigrant community to get vaccinated, even those who are worried about their immigration status.

“I would like to tell them, ‘Do not be afraid.’ I have inquired,” she said, adding that any information they give to receive the vaccine won’t be used against them later.

“They are in this country. If they can take this vaccine, I would strongly recommend it because, thanks be to God, we have it. It’s going to be available,” said Sister Claudia.

In January, after receiving his first dose of the vaccine, Cardinal Cupich urged all people to get it.

“The pandemic has devastated families and communities around the world, particularly the poor and marginalized. The vaccines offer a ray of hope that the world will unite in our common humanity to bring about health and healing,” he said. “Faith leaders must now step forward and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

During the week of Feb. 15, the Archdiocese of Chicago, in partnership with Agudath Israel of Illinois and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod school systems, rolled out a COVID-19 vaccination plan for all employees in the three faith-based school systems.

Through the plan, school personnel are able to sign up for vaccination appointments at Loyola University Medical System, which includes the medical center in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park and MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, as well as the Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov Elementary Hebrew Day school, which has an area dedicated to inoculations.

Teachers and school personnel are included in the 1B vaccine rollout in Illinois.

In some cases, schools and staff have been able to receive the vaccine earlier.

On Feb. 24, teachers and staff at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, 720 W. Belmont Ave., received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. School nurse Donna Iglar arranged for the staff to receive it before the archdiocese announced its plan.

“It’s an added layer of protection, but we are not changing any of our policies or procedures that we put in place at the beginning of the school year,” Iglar said.

She believes that staff are relieved to finally be completely vaccinated. It’s been a challenging year, Iglar said.

“As difficult as it’s been, it’s been amazing to see everyone step up and show up with their A game and give 210% so we could get the kids in school and get them in safely,” she said.

Preschool teacher Sara Britton said she was happy to be able to receive her vaccine.

“I know that there are different versions of COVID, but this definitely help puts you a little more at ease,” Britton said.



  • catholic schools
  • covid-19
  • vaccine

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