Nearly 500 educators vaccinated at Medford district clinic

All vaccine doses were provided free-of-charge from Rite Aid

Medford Township School District (MTSD) is skipping the complicated process and making it easy for educators across the region to get vaccinated.

After a donation of doses from Rite Aid in Medford, the district has been able to vaccinate nearly 500 people during three clinics in March. The vaccine was offered to staff and their families at MTSD, St. Mary of the Lakes School, Lenape Regional High School District (LRHSD) and MTSD’s preschool and after school staff.

“We’re doing our best to try to reduce any quarantines,” said Gale Ferraro, MTSD’s director of educational support services. “We want to keep our schools open and be able to move forward.”

At least 150 people arrived at the Medford Memorial Middle School gymnasium on March 19, 24 and 26, where Rite Aid pharmacologists administered the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

Every patient was vaccinated free of charge, thanks to Rite Aid’s donation of doses, equipment and professionals to administer them.

“They’ve been very generous to work with us,” Ferraro noted. The donation was coordinated by the district and a parent, who Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi praised at a recent Board of Education meeting.

On Friday, March 26, Michael Hak, a music teacher at Chairville Elementary, received his vaccine. Hak teaches music to all grade levels and classes, so he sees all of Chairville’s students.

“I wanted to feel safe going to work,” he explained. Hak had tried to sign up for a vaccine elsewhere – even considering visiting a pharmacy at 4 a.m. – but found many dead ends. He said it’s “great” the district was able to obtain vaccine doses.

Many people came with their spouse or adult children to receive the vaccine. Ferraro said immediate family members were invited because it helps reduce the amount of staff who have to quarantine each week. 

Suzanne Thames, a bus driver for LRHSD, also received her vaccine on March 26. 

“Kids are on and off the bus, so it makes you a little worried,” she explained. Thames lives with her elderly parents who could face extreme symptoms if they are infected with COVID-19.

“I don’t want to bring it home to them. It was really important to protect them,” she noted. “It’s just kind of like a relief. At least I’m doing something.”