- Educators are now a priority for COVID-19 vaccinations, with plans to have all people who work at schools and child care centers inoculated by the end of March.
- Experts say these vaccinations are essential for schools to reopen safely.
- There are numerous online sites to help educators make appointments. State health departments, as well as labor unions, can also be helpful.
President Joe Biden announced plans last week to have every pre-K through-12 educator and child care worker vaccinated by the end of March.
The announcement comes as the push to reopen schools continues following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) release of school reopening guidelines in late January.
More than half of states – which set their own priorities for who gets access to COVID-19 vaccines first – have opened up their eligibility criteria to teachers. But that still leaves many educators for whom the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t yet available.
To expand teacher access to all 50 states, the Biden administration is opening up the Federal Retail Pharmacy Vaccine ProgramTrusted Source, providing millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines earmarked for educators and child care workers.
With this move, the program, a coalition of 21 pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks that include Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, among others, will no longer be bound by state eligibility rules for who gets the vaccine.
“The practical public health challenge is how to get the vaccines to people. That’s where pharmacies can be a huge help,” said Dr. Jan K. Carney, MPH, a professor of medicine and associate dean for public health and health policy at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.
“This initiative will help get more vaccines to people faster, used alongside healthcare settings, health departments, vaccine clinics, and more,” Carney told Healthline. “It’s a great way to help get more people vaccinated faster and our lives moving back toward normal.”
Many experts believe this expansion is a necessary move to making school reopening possible and safe.
“Given the prevalence of kids that report to school sick, many teachers are fearful that kids will report to school either asymptomatic with COVID after exposure or with COVID,” Joseph B. Urban, education attorney at the Clark Hill law firm, told Healthline. “Teachers are nervous that they are stepping into harm’s way in the same way that front line medical workers would be, but without the rigorous protections afforded to such workers. Thus, providing vaccination to the teachers who want them will go a long way toward allaying the anxiety they feel and smooth their return to the classrooms.”
“Prioritizing educators in the vaccine rollout allows them to return to the classroom with greater assurance they will not contract COVID-19,” he added.