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Manhattan Beach, South Bay Educators Get First Vaccines through BCHD

Mar 03, 2021 06:38PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Perry Guerrero, left, an occupational therapist at Pacific Elementary and Manhattan Beach Middle School; and Julie Brancato, a kindergarten teacher at Grand View Elementary, receive their first vaccinations at Adventureplex in Manhattan Beach on Wednesday.

Manhattan Beach and other South Bay educators streamed into AdventurePlex on Wednesday to receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through Beach Cities Health District.

L.A. County and Manhattan Beach officials were on hand to celebrate the new operation, and to witness the first vaccine given to a local educator.

(Manhattan Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Tyler Wade administered the vaccine.)

The vaccination center - which is the result of a massive South Bay-wide collaborative effort between public school districts, city officials, and the Beach Cities Health District - has received 1200 doses of vaccines for this week.

It will distribute 400 doses per day (Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday) to educators in 11 districts. Manhattan Beach received an allotment of 90 doses for the week.

"We've been working so hard as a region to make this happen," Wade told DigMB after administering the first vaccine. "I am super proud and happy to be here."

Manhattan Beach Unified School District Mike Matthews told school board members at their meeting on Wednesday night that between Adventureplex and employees securing vaccines elsewhere, he expects that approximately 250 MBUSD employees, or more than 1/4 of all staff, will have had their first vaccine by the end of the week.

Vaccines a Symbol of Return to School

The coveted COVID-19 vaccine holds strong symbolic value for teachers, parents, and community members who are looking for a return to normalcy when teachers are vaccinated and students return to in-person classes.

The AdventurePlex vaccine site is a closed Point of Distribution (POD) specifically operating to vaccinate employees of area public school districts and select charter schools, and is not open to the public.

At Wednesday's event, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn praised the Adventureplex operation as a "model" for providing a localized center where educators could receive their vaccinations.

"I think it's really important to get the kids back in school. I think they have lost so much this year" said Hahn.

Manhattan Beach Mayor Suzanne Hadley and councilmembers Joe Franklin, Richard Montgomery, and Hildy Stern were also on hand to view the operation.

"I'm delighted for our public school teachers to have convenient early access to vaccines," Manhattan Beach Mayor Suzanne Hadley told DigMB.

Hadley added that she was looking forward to when private and independent school teachers and early childhood education teachers would be able to get a dedicated location for receiving vaccines locally as well.

Beach Cities Health District officials said they were hoping to be able to coordinate such an effort. Currently, there will be a separate vaccine section set aside on Saturday at the Los Angeles County Department of Health's MegaPOD locations for early childhood educators, and on Sunday for private school educators. However, as one official noted, "Things are changing daily."

Site Running Smoothly

The AdventurePlex site appeared to be running very smoothly on Wednesday, with educators moving through a socially-distanced line outside, into the building and past the famous indoor play structure, and through to designated vaccination stations in the gymnasium. 

A series of room dividers - decorated with photos of local attractions such as the Manhattan Beach Pier - shielded those getting vaccines from the rest of the gym.

 Newly vaccinated teachers waited on the other side of the gym for 20 minutes under supervision by health staff to make sure that there were no allergic reactions. Then the educators left out the back door and into the parking lot.

Behind the scenes, nurses were working to fill the vaccines in one room, while in another room school representatives from different districts were coordinating appointment schedules.

(At Wednesday night's school board meeting, MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews patched in Executive Assistant Heather Hoffman from onsite at Adventureplex as she continued to manage MBUSD vaccination schedules.)

Beach Cities Health District CEO Tom Bakaly told DigMB that the Adventureplex operation had the capacity to deliver up to 800 vaccines per day. "It's just a matter of getting the doses," he said. 

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