Concerns about possible side effects from second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations prompted Mackay school board members to cancel school for a day, giving employees a day off after receiving their second shot.

The second round of vaccinations was planned for Feb. 16.

Superintendent Susan Buescher told the Messenger she’s been told by health experts and people who’ve had their first dose that people might feel too sick to work the day after getting a second vaccination.

Principal Stephanie Green, who came down with vaccine-related symptoms after her first dose of the Moderna vaccine, attested to feeling ill.

“I slept the whole entire day, I was that sick,” Green said. But, Green said she was only out of commission for one day.

School officials were concerned about what might happen if bus drivers got sick from their second shot. Other staff members and aides can cover for teachers who are too sick to work, but the district has few substitute bus drivers.

“The easiest thing would have been to do it on a Thursday, but they kept saying no,” Buescher said about Eastern Idaho Public Health workers who administer the vaccines. Buescher said she tried for several weeks to get the vaccine clinics scheduled on a Thursday so teachers and other staff would have a three-day weekend to recover. Because there were other vaccinations scheduled in Mackay on Feb. 16 and medical providers don’t want to risk wasting any of the extremely limited supply of vaccine, Buescher said they wouldn’t budge.

On a split vote, board members decided to close the district Feb. 17. Board members Jake Johnson and Bryce Woodbury opposed the measure, while Charmaine Gamett, Holly Seefried and board Chairman Genea McAffee voted in favor of the plan.