Teachers prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine
Educators, childcare workers cleared to schedule appointments
Last updated 9/1/2021 at 11:59am
Editor's Note: A new phase opened up late in the day on March 4. Story here: https://bit.ly/38b9RNe. Keep up-to-date on phases by viewing the descriptors here: https://bit.ly/388CRp5. You are free to schedule when you are eligible.
Educators and childcare workers can now schedule for a COVID-19 vaccine, upon a directive from up top.
President Joe Biden added educators and childcare workers to the current vaccination eligibility group. The change was announced by Gov. Jay Inslee's office on March 2.
Existing vaccine providers including pharmacies will take on the task, a news release from Inslee's office said.
Heather Thomas, communications and government affairs director for the Snohomish Health District said the change does not limit where educators and childcare workers access shots.
"They can schedule anywhere that has vaccines," Thomas said.
All vaccinations are still appointment-only, and supplies remain limited. Any eligible person can schedule a vaccination.
Phase 1B-1 lists the currently eligible and includes anyone older than 65 and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household.
Phase Finder – the online tool that determines eligibility for a vaccine appointment at https://bit.ly/3uNfUBD – may not reflect the addition of educators and childcare workers yet, Inslee's office stated March 2.
Still eligible are people in the previous phase, and vaccination efforts are moving forward with that process of keeping previous phases eligible as new ones open up.
Previous eligibility during phase 1A included health care workers at high risk for COVID-19 infection, first responders, people who live or work in long-term care facilities, and all other workers in health settings who are at risk of COVID-19, the DOH states.
The priority for educators to gain immunity from COVID-19 solves a problem for the already re-opened schools. Staffing limits have been impacted by employees taking leave, to avoid group-settings until they are vaccinated.
Ian Saltzman, superintendent for the district, was one of three school leaders who wrote to Inslee in a push to move teachers up the list, for vaccination.
In a late-January interview with The Beacon, Everett School Board president Caroline Mason said as soon as vaccines were available, the district would assure teachers were vaccinated. She mentioned a plan to set up clinics in school buildings.
An announcement from Inslee's office is anticipated on vaccine prioritization for more groups, including critical workers in certain congregate settings such as grocery, farming and food processing work. Corrections workers and bus drivers were mentioned as well.
And while the new group can schedule wherever vaccines are available, school district and childcare facilities are making plans to help the process along.
This weekend, Everett Public Schools is planning a clinic in Everett.
"We are having a vaccination clinic for staff this Saturday in conjunction with Safeway/Albertson's pharmacy," said Kathy Reeves, communications director for the Everett Public Schools. "It is only 600 doses but is a good start. We will have more as the vaccine supply allows."
In Snohomish School District, elementary students at Seattle Hill and Cathcart started back in early February. Any active school district employee will be able to schedule, said Kristin Foley, communications director for Snohomish schools.
"The Snohomish School District has partnered with Kusler's Compounding Pharmacy," she said.
A clinic for employees is planned at Snohomish High School, on March 13 and 14, Foley said.
Washington is in Phase 1B-1 and while the news release did not mention school staff, they are included.
"Our understanding, from the Biden administration, is that it includes all school workers," an official from Inslee's office said in an email.
At KinderCare in Mill Creek, Amelia Langshaw, assistant director, said only two employees were currently vaccinated at the Mill Creek location, and the agency is taking strides to increase that with the new announcement. She said as soon as vaccines for childcare workers start rolling out, they'll help employees get to the vaccine appointment by providing time off during the workday. They hope to schedule workers on a Friday, so people will have time to recover from any side effects before returning to work.
Primrose School of Mill Creek is a daycare provider for infants, kindergarteners and school age children. Owner, Larisa Hamilton, said they are waiting for direction from the Snohomish Health District on where childcare workers can get access to vaccine appointments.
Officials in an online Town Hall for the county said supply continues to be a challenge. But Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said the estimate on when all eligible adults will be vaccinated this spring. Relaying the announcement from Biden, he said, "by implementing the Defense Production Act, they believe there will be enough vaccines to vaccinate every adult in America by the end of May."
Editor's Note: The Mill Creek Beacon available by subscription. Subscribe at Mill Creek Beacon https://www.millcreekbeacon.com/subscribe or call 425-347-5634.