FLUSHING — Ashley Lantz was one of the first local Catholic school teachers to receive the first vaccine shot when appointments opened in early January. As luck would have it — or rather, it being “a part of God’s plan,” as Lantz says — she found an afternoon appointment on Jan. 11, the first day of eligibility for teachers in New York City.
“I feel so blessed to have been able to get an appointment right away and to have gotten both doses of the vaccine,” Lantz said, noting that she received her second shot on Feb. 9 at Hillcrest High School. “The level of calmness that has since washed over me has done a lot for my mental health.”
Lantz previously told The Tablet she was nervous and planned to wait before looking to make an appointment. However, after speaking with healthcare workers and doing additional research to educate herself, she changed her mind to help protect her family and kindergarten students at St. Kevin Catholic Academy in Flushing.
“I decided that this was the best course of action for me to take,” she said. “Also, being able to sign up and find an appointment immediately — unlike so many others — made me feel that this was definitely in God’s plan for me.”
Having gotten her second dose a month ago, Lantz reiterated how she’s not letting her guard down and is still following health and safety guidelines inside and outside the classroom. She’s continued to help her family whenever she can — whether it’s being their go-to person for grocery shopping or doing any last-minute errands on their behalf.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest interim guidance says people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely visit with other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances. However, essential safety precautions are still needed, including wearing masks and social distancing in public, and avoiding medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
“I have been more at ease when having to enter stores and even coming to school every day,” Lantz said, adding that she’s currently the only fully-vaccinated person in her household. “Just knowing that I have this added protection and a super low chance of bringing it home to any of my family members definitely makes me feel a bit more secure venturing out.”
Additionally, Lantz believes that getting vaccinated has made an enormous difference in her school environment. She said she feels more relaxed while teaching inside the classroom.
For the last six months, Lantz has continually found inventive ways to make her lessons engaging, fun, and safe to keep students’ attention. Pre-pandemic, the kindergartners would have gathered together as a class on the classroom carpet for daily activities. Now, Lantz has implemented smaller group work with the students sitting six feet apart.
“I’ve started utilizing Expo markers a lot in class,” she explained. “Each child has their own [marker] and the desks they have act as a whiteboard top. So, we do a lot of spelling and math work directly on our desks to limit the amount of paper being used and passed around.”
Though she’s completed her own “vaccine journey,” Lantz remains optimistic for her loved ones, who are slowly but surely going through the process too. Her sister-in-law and older brother, for example, have gotten their first doses, and her aunt, uncle, and one cousin are fully vaccinated as well.
“Appointments are still very hard to come by,” Lantz noted. “Hopefully, more vaccines will be available soon, and everyone will be able to receive the vaccine.”
As of March 8, New York City had administered more than 2,325,800 doses — including nearly 1,265,600 first doses and nearly 723,000-second doses — since the rollout began.