BREAKING: Teachers and Childcare Workers Eligible to Be Vaccinated Immediately

by Carolyn Bick

Educators, school staff, and childcare providers in Washington State are now eligible to be vaccinated effective immediately. 

Following President Joe Biden’s directive that states prioritize educators and childcare workers, Gov. Jay Inslee announced in a press release today that the State would carry out the president’s directive through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which through both chain and independent pharmacies the federal government intends to supply vaccines for eligible people across the nation.

In the press release, Inslee said that the State’s Phase Finder tool might take some time to reflect this change, but that this should not stop any educator, school staffer, or licensed childcare provider from scheduling their vaccination appointment immediately. That said, vaccine supply from the federal government will continue to be a critical issue. In King County, for instance, as of last week, up to 50% of people over age 60 had not yet received a first dose and up to 40% of those over 70 had yet to get vaccinated.

“This should give educators more confidence to return to in-person learning” Inslee said in the press release and noted that “it can be done with the safety protocols that are being used by 1,400 other schools in our state right now.”

In a press release that shortly followed Inslee’s, the State’s Department of Health (DOH) said that Washington had been “moving to vaccinate [teachers and childcare providers] in a matter of weeks. This announcement represents a faster timeline than originally planned, and the department is engaging partners on a robust plan to support this directive.”

“DOH is working quickly to get clarity from the Biden Administration to ensure roll-out in our state will result in ample vaccine supply through various providers and equitable access for education and childcare workers,” the DOH’s press release said. “Vaccine supply will likely primarily be delivered through the federal pharmacy program, and the directive indicates all vaccine providers should prioritize these workers.”

Inslee also said that he will soon be announcing when the State’s vaccine prioritization will include workers in certain congregate settings, such as those who work in grocery stores, on farms, in food processing settings, public transport, and incarceration systems. With regards to the latter, there is no apparent change to when inmates — who are unable to leave their close confines or easily access the outdoors — will be vaccinated.

Carolyn Bick is a local journalist and photographer. As the Emerald’s Watchdragon reporter, they dive deep into local issues to keep the public informed and ensure those in positions of power are held accountable for their actions. You can reach them here and can check out their work here and here.

Featured Image: Photo by Phil Roeder via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

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