By Jessica Mathews /

A retired teacher from Livingston County was among hundreds to attend a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Ford Field in downtown Detroit Monday.

58-year-old Dana Berry taught 6th grade at Hartland Farms Intermediate School. She’s retired now but still tutors students and says she definitely misses her kids. Berry went around 10 am Monday to the clinic hosted by retailer Meijer and the Michigan Education Special Services Association. Berry says she signed up a couple of months ago and received a text last week stating slots were available, asking if she was interested. Berry absolutely was – saying it felt like she won the lottery.

Upon arrival, she was surprised to see what looked like several hundred people in line but said it moved fast. After checking in with her prescription and insurance cards, Berry was sent down a hall with cubicles of nurses administering the vaccine to different sections of around 20 or 30 people. Berry said the operation was very impressive and completely planned from start to finish – calling it a “well-oiled machine."

Berry thought she’d be there for a while based on the number of people there but estimated she was actually in and out in less than an hour – which included the 30-minutes she had to sit and wait after getting the vaccine to make sure she sure she didn’t have any reaction. She received the Moderna vaccine and said it didn’t feel like she even got a shot as it was quick and didn’t sting or hurt at all – adding several hours later she was feeling a little bit tired and her arm was a little bit sore, but otherwise "it was no big deal."

When it comes to the debate who how people are prioritized to receive the vaccine, Berry said she feels teachers were not prioritized enough and was surprised there weren’t more opportunities in Livingston County for teachers to immediately get vaccinated. She said of course healthcare workers had to be prioritized first when it comes to getting the vaccine but she feels teachers should have been right next to them. Berry commented that when signing on to be a teacher, she thought she was going to change the world but didn’t realize she was also basically a nurse. Berry said she got very sick her first five years of teaching because teachers are exposed to every germ imaginable. She said people who aren’t teachers don’t understand how sick kids are when they come to school – noting if there are 30 kids in a room, she guarantees around five are sick with colds, cases of flu, or fevers.

Berry added that she really didn’t want to get the vaccine initially and typically also doesn’t like getting the flu shot but in this case, she feels there’s a need to get back to normal and have restaurants open and older people cared for. Berry feels it’s more of a civic duty – not to mention the risk - as some people will get a little cold but other people die and thinks there’s no reason not to do it.

Berry said overall the whole vaccine clinic operation was very impressive and a positive experience. She said she hopes the general public who are second-guessing getting the vaccine will think of others who are immune-compromised or older, not to mention all of those who have already died. Berry says she hopes that people would reconsider and as a group, work to try and keep everyone safe.

The vaccine clinic was pre-registration only and at capacity, with around 2,600 educational employees receiving the vaccine. They’ll return in a few weeks to receive their second doses.

AP photos.