Texas teachers, along with daycare and preschool workers, are now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.
They’re in the same category as healthcare workers, seniors, and people with pre-existing conditions.
But with deep waitlists across North Texas, a shot in the arm for teachers may still not come for weeks.
COVID-19 safety measures are in place at schools and daycare centers, but workers are still at risk of being exposed.
The change in eligibility is a sign of progress, as Texas teachers have been in the classroom for months during the pandemic.
While at a distance, they are still put in constant contact with multiple people.
“I had definitely hoped that we would be on the list as soon as possible,” said Julie Bottom, who teaches 8th grade U.S. history at Coppell Middle School North.
When the vaccine rollout started, teachers had no idea when they would be eligible.
In December, the governor said he wanted them to be a priority.
“Teachers play such a pivotal role, and I consider teachers to be frontline workers,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in December. “I urge and hope that teachers will be near the front of the line in receiving this vaccine.”
But they’ve been left off the phase 1A and 1B priority lists.
Then, on Tuesday, President Joe Biden made a similar proclamation, and said, “We want every educator, school staff member, childcare worker, to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March.”
The next day, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services told local vaccine hubs to add educators, school staff, and childcare workers to eligibility lists.
The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program was updated to include teachers and daycare staff after President Joe Biden announced “a directive that all states prioritize school staff and childcare workers for COVID-19 vaccination.”
Biden also said he expects the country will have enough vaccines available for all adults by the end of May, which is two months earlier than anticipated.
Biden said his goal is for every pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educator, school staff member, and childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of March.
Those who are eligible can sign up for an appointment online through CVS’s website, through the CVS app, or by calling 800-746-7287.
“I immediately started looking at the links to see if I can get on a list,” Bottom said.
Deborah Spanier is an elementary school special education teacher with Dallas ISD.
She said in-person learning is important and the masks help keep everyone safe, but she is thankful teachers are eligible for the vaccine.
“Definitely going to get the vaccine when I can. I have to admit, at first, I was a little skeptical,” she said.
Teacher vaccinations by the end of March may not be realistic, as there are more than 1 million North Texans on various waitlists.
But many teachers feel more at ease knowing they are now a priority on those lists.
“For the welfare of the person, themselves, who want to feel that relief,” Spanier added.
“It may be a while before I can get on a list, but I am excited that it is a possibility now,” Bottom said.
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