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JeffCo teachers say distrust in their district led to weekend vaccine chaos

There was a mad dash to a vaccine clinic this weekend after JeffCo Public Schools sent an alert to more than 14,000 teachers that there were 200 extra doses.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Teachers with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) told 9NEWS the district’s vaccine alert over the weekend, and the subsequent chaos that ensued because of it, was the product of educator mistrust over the district’s rollout plan.

“If people are feeling this level of desperation to get one of these coveted doses, that shows our lack of trust in that we are going to be taken care of by JeffCo,” high school teacher Jessica Duran said.

Duran was one of about 500 district educators who got their first COVID-19 vaccine dose Saturday after the district emailed more than 14,000 staff members saying there were 200 vaccines left over at an SCL clinic for anyone who could get to the National Western Complex within the hour.

The announcement caused a mad dash and long lines of traffic that spread onto the freeway.

“I do understand the desperation in a sense,” first-grade teacher Andrea Callejon said, sharing that a fellow teacher ran her off the road trying to get in front of her in traffic. “As a teacher, you hear of other school districts that have been able to get the vaccine for their teachers or are even letting their teachers take the day off to go get vaccinated.”

The district told 9NEWS it is coming up with a list of prioritized educators this week in the event of another situation where there are extra doses.

RELATED: Priority lists will help avoid chaos during vaccine distribution

The district is leaving the planning of future vaccine appointments up to its health providers.

“The list of all employees has been provided to our partnering health services providers we work with in Jeffco – Kaiser, SCL, JCPH, Centura,” district spokesperson Tammy Schiff said. “They are doing the outreach to staff with invitations for appointments when they have vaccine allocation available. They were to begin this process today. Per the Governor, 1/3 of vaccine allocations are to be directed to educators/education workers as part of the 1B.2. group.”

“It would be really nice for them to not sort of push the ball and leave it in our court, which is what it’s felt like right now,” Callejon said.

JCPS sent an email to staff on Friday, the day before the event at the National Western Complex, telling teachers, “because of the limited vaccine supply, there will likely be some delay before you can actually get the vaccine. The limited vaccine supply affects every school district in the metro Denver area equally.”

The email went on to say, “While we wait for sufficient vaccine quantities to be available in Jefferson County, we are encouraging all employees to do their own research and register through other health provider websites as part of the eligible group of Colorado residents beginning on February 8. It may be possible that you are able to receive your vaccination from another provider based on where you live or because of that provider’s vaccine allocation.”

The district told 9NEWS Monday that it is not providing vaccine clinics for teachers like the Boulder Valley School District.

It is unclear if it is planning other district-centric vaccine events, like Denver Public Schools.

“Why does DPS have a plan? Why does Cherry Creek have a plan?” Duran asked. “The message we keep getting from all sides is that we’re not important. We’re not important enough to have a plan.”

The district said there may be an update Tuesday with more vaccine distribution details.

RELATED: 'It was a mad dash': Jeffco teachers rush to get leftover doses at COVID-19 vaccination event