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School nurses filed into the Willson School on Thursday. They took off their winter coats and scarves, rolled up their sleeves and became among the first people in Gallatin County to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department accepted its first shipment of 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday morning and immediately began giving them to school nurses and home health workers.

On Christmas Eve, the nurses set up an impromptu clinic in the Bozeman School District’s administrative building.

Some had placed a desk and two chairs in a hallway. Others were settling out vials of the vaccine, needles and band-aids. One organized paperwork to ensure the nurses came back for the required second dose of the vaccine in 28 days.

Rebecca Spear, a nurse for four Bozeman elementary schools, who was wearing a headband with a picture of Rosie the Riveter in a mask and gloves, administered the vaccine to her colleagues.

Jeana Gaskill, a nurse at Sacajawea Middle School, was the first to receive the vaccine. Her colleagues cheered her on and took photos to commemorate the moment.

As a school nurse, Gaskill said she interacts with a lot of sick students, which puts her at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. She also said there are so few school nurses in the Bozeman School District that if one gets sick, it is difficult to find a replacement.

“Getting vaccinated is an opportunity that will help us better help sick kids,” Gaskill said.

Justin Davis, a health aid at Heck-Quaw Elementary School in Belgrade, said when he learned about the vaccination clinic on Tuesday, he decided to participate.

“It’s important to lead by example,” he said.

As Maggie Secrest prepared for her vaccination, she pulled out her phone to take a selfie.

“It’s historic,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

Throughout the pandemic, Secrest said she has been busy working with the Gallatin City-County Health Department to investigate COVID-19 cases, has had to assess sick students for symptoms of the virus and has fielded countless questions from parents.

Per federal and state guidelines, the health department is providing the first vaccines to frontline health care workers like Secrest. National pharmacy chains will also be giving some of the United States’ first doses to residents of local long-term care facilities beginning next week.

“I’m happy to be at the forefront,” Secrest said. “I’m on board with working to keep our community, especially our schools, as safe as possible, so I can’t wait for the public to be able to get the vaccine.”

There is no timeline for when the vaccine will be available to more people.

In the meantime, Bozeman Health has begun vaccinating its 1,900 frontline workers and will finish the immunizations next week. And the health department is working to ensure that smaller health care organizations also receive the vaccine.

At the Willson Building, once Spear finished immunizing her colleagues, she looked around for a volunteer to give her the vaccine.

A coworker stepped up, Spear rolled up her sleeve and everyone cheered.

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Perrin Stein can be reached at or at 582-2648.