MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The state of Minnesota kicked off its COVID-19 vaccine community pilot program Jan. 21. Educators were in the group and allowed to sign up, but very few teachers actually got vaccinated.

Dylan Alonzo was one of those lucky educators who was selected to be vaccinated on Saturday.

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“I feel good! That wasn’t as bad as a flu shot, it was actually easier,” said Alonzo, after he got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Andover Archery Complex.

Alonzo teaches 3- to 5-year-olds at Little Newton’s Early Education Center in Plymouth, which was chosen as a pilot school for the state’s recent vaccine launch. Alonzo is relieved that he’ll now have an extra layer of defense against spreading the virus.

“[I’m not worried] necessarily getting the kids sick, but getting other teachers sick,” said Alonzo.

The state was allotted 68,000 doses to give out this week. Of that, 6,000 doses were set aside for educators and child care center workers.

The Minnesota Department of Health says the vaccine doses that were set aside for teachers were allocated to regions associated with schools and based on a percentage of the workforce in child care and education. School districts, charter schools, tribal schools, and nonpublic school associations were among those selected to participate in the pilot. Child care programs were randomly selected and notified to secure an appointment through the state-sponsored pilot sites.

“This particular location [was selected], but I do have three other locations in Minnesota that were not selected,” said Alise McGregor, the CEO of Little Newton’s Early Education Center.

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They work with kids that are 6 months old to kindergarteners, and was one of the randomly selected child care centers in the state this week to vaccinate their staff of 65.

Right now, McGregor is working from home, so she opted out of getting a vaccine herself.

“With the limited number of vaccinations that they’re putting in the pilot, I’m going to let them get the people that are on the front lines,” said McGregor.

Even though all the staffers working in-person are getting the vaccine, it’s not going to change anything about how they operate at school and work with their young students.

“There’s still a lot unknown as far as how long until they get their second shot, does everyone have to get it and what does that look like for parents coming in and out of the building?” said McGregor.

“I don’t think it’s really going to change it at all,” said Alonzo, “not until all of this is over with.”

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These educators are scheduled to get their second dose in two weeks. The MDH wants to remind everyone again that this is a pilot program to get people vaccinated and work out the kinks before opening vaccinations up to the masses.

Marielle Mohs