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‘I’m no superhero, I work with superheroes’: ASD school nurses help administer COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 7:55 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - About six years ago, Siobhan Finnegan said she became a school nurse with Anchorage School District as a way to support her daughter as a single mom. Now, with no kids at school, she finds herself alongside her fellow school nurses and health care professionals administering one of the most historic vaccines in history.

Once students never returned from spring break, Finnegan said she began to serve in many roles during the course of the pandemic.

She said it started with working with parents to ensure children were up to their current vaccines, like the flu. Then, she started working with a service project called Period Poverty where she helped get feminine products to over 200 families in the community. After that, she started working “pretty much full time” as a contact tracer with the municipality. Before she started giving vaccines, she began helping with the testing effort among ASD students and families.

“Yeah, I like being busy,” she said with a hearty laugh.

Now we’re here. Finnegan is a part of a leadership team of a handful of other school nurses. She said she’s been acting as a type of liaison between the school nurses and state and local health leaders to make sure ASD school nurses had the training and everything else necessary to administer the vaccine.

The first rounds she helped administer were among essential personnel in the city like the fire department.

“And we’ve vaccinated bush pilots, travel nurses, anybody who’s out there on the frontline,” Finnegan said.

She said as those syringes went into the arms of those frontline workers, it was a joyous moment for her.

“Everybody was really excited. People were taking pictures, selfies,” she said. “It was like Christmas early.”

Starting Thursday, she said they’ll continue to administer the second dose to those people before moving on to the next tier.

It was a long road that led to this historic moment. She can’t help but remember all the trying times for those in her community as the vaccines get rolled out. Finnegan said she sees the light at the end of the tunnel and encourages others to get vaccinated to get us closer to that light.

“All I can say is if you’re worried about getting vaccinated, don’t be. They’ve done all the steps, all of the sciences, everything that they would normally do with a vaccine has been done, they’ve just done it at warp speed,“ she said. “I’ve had my second vaccine yesterday. My arm is a little bit sore. Other than that, I’ve had no symptoms, no side effects.”

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