Yuma County denies Gadsden Vaccination Clinic’s cancellation

YUMA, Arizona (KYMA, KECY) – Yuma County responded Friday to allegations by the Gadsden Elementary School District (GESD) that health officials canceled a coronavirus vaccination clinic planned for its teachers.

In a statement released on Wednesday, GESD wrote:

“The Yuma County Health Department notified Gadsden Elementary School District 32 that the vaccine distribution was canceled on February 24, 2021. Yuma Union High School has priority for the second dose. We were contacted by the Yuma County Superintendent Office through GESD informed is tentatively planned for the beginning of March, no specific date has been set. “

– GESD press release of February 17, 2021

Read the full press release from GESD here

Late on Friday afternoon, the district administrator, health director and school principal responded to GESD’s allegations, saying the press release “resulted in misinformation about vaccination clinics and the prioritization of doses when it comes to area instructors in the Yuma District.”

In a statement, the Yuma County Public Health District (YCPHD) said it had not planned a vaccination clinic for the school district, nor discussed planning a clinic specifically for its teachers.

The county said it has planned a mass vaccination clinic for Feb. 24-25, but it is only intended for those who need their second dose. YCPHD said the Yuma Union High School District (YUHSD) staff assigned to be shot also needed their second dose. Dates on that date have been specifically blocked to accommodate second doses for YUHSD.

YCPHD noted that due to a vaccine shortage and the late delivery of doses, the status of any planned vaccination clinics remains in question.

“I’ve been working with State Representative Tim Dunn, Principal Diana Gomez, and all school districts for nearly a month to make vaccination easier for teachers,” said Tom Tyree, superintendent of Yuma County School. “As we have explained in all of our communications, the vaccine distribution is very fluid and we always ask for your patience. GESD 32 has not been notified of a vaccination clinic for a specific date. I will continue to communicate with you about the vaccine. Time for teachers there, to get their vaccine. I appreciate everyone’s collaboration as we work through this fluid process. “

YCPHD said it was working to ensure fair access to testing. It said it had also provided PPE, test supplies and rapid tests to clinical partners, community facilities and schools, both public and private. Health officials said they also provided information, training and technical assistance to these groups.

Diana Gomez, Yuma county health director, said Friday that she couldn’t allow misinformation to create the impression that one school’s health district was preferred to another.

“I was born and raised in Yuma County, primarily South County, and graduated from Gadsden Elementary School,” said Gomez. “Yuma County is truly my community. I share the goal of making sure teachers and support staff receive their vaccine as an additional strategy to safely reopen our schools. In all communities, especially rural communities, schools provide an important safety net for children.”

Gomez said she realizes how eager the public is to get a coronavirus vaccine. She said she was encouraged by the high level of interest. However, it urges people to realize that at this point, demand continues to far outweigh supply. The county will plan future vaccination clinics as soon as the doses are available.

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