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Thousands of educators and child care workers get first vaccines in St. Paul

Many teachers are expected to return to in-person learning on Monday.

A big step in the fight against COVID-19 Thursday, as thousands of Minnesota educators and child care providers started to receive their vaccines.

The vaccinations are part of a mass vaccination pilot program at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Its doors opened at noon and overall, the process was well organized, socially distanced, and only took about 20 minutes to complete.

The organizer expected to give about 3,000 shots on Thursday. The clinic lasts through Monday and only Minnesota educators and child care workers with appointments were allowed in.

"The line is moving pretty good actually, at first it looked like it wasn't moving anywhere but as soon as it started moving, it went," said IT Coordinator Jeff Eicher. 

He works at a charter school in Brooklyn Center and often does house calls to make sure students are online and able to learn successfully.

We were only allowed to take pictures of people who gave us permission, but everyone was funneled downstairs to dozens of socially distanced vaccination sites. Nurses and National Guard members methodically administered the doses.

This clinic runs through Saturday and Governor Walz allocated 15,000 doses to the program. That amount will vaccinate about six-percent of all the educators and child care workers in the state. 

"I'm doing this because it was an opportunity," said kindergarten teacher Ashley Leseman. "I feel like I can't just pass this up."

Leseman returns to in-person teaching Monday in Inver Grove Heights. She says while distance learning offered flexibility, she thinks the classroom is ideal for students.

As for the shot?

"It was a really good shot, actually," she said. "I may have said some choice words actually, mostly because I don't like shots." 

The clinic is expected to last through 8 p.m. Thursday. Everyone who gets vaccinated here also made their second appointment to come back to the auditorium in about a month.