The state of Kansas has included teachers in its current priority for COVID-19 vaccination. But in Missouri, officials do not believe the category of essential workers, which includes teachers, will be prioritized until April.
Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director, said he has been happy with their current rollout plan of using hospitals with high frequencies as vaccination sites as well as holding mass vaccination clinics. Still, he said, the state only is receiving 85,000 vaccines a week.
Williams said once the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is approved, Missouri’s supply could double by the start of March. That’s when he said he expects the state will move forward with tier 3 of phase 1B, which would include teachers.
“Once March rolls around, we anticipate, based on what we know now, that we could conceivably double the amount of vaccine we’re getting. As always, we will adapt our strategy to the amount of vaccine we get,” Williams said.
Across state lines, Kansas has decided to include teachers in current vaccination plans. Marcus Baltzell, communications and public relations director for the National Education Association, said this is important to ensuring kids get back in the classroom and is done safely throughout the state.
“One thing we all have in common is this: we have two big goals that all educators share. Number one is getting back with their students, and number two is staying safe while we do it. And that’s, that’s the big goal,” Baltzell said.
Baltzell said he understands the system is not perfect when distributing vaccines, but he does believe it is important for teachers to be in the line and start receiving shots in arms.
“It hasn’t been perfect and the reason we’re hearing a lot of that is because of something we’ve said all along, and that is that it’s very difficult to locally control a global pandemic,” Baltzell said. “When you give those resources out to communities and then you leave it in strictly ... this kind of open book of how to do anything, then people make different decisions. “
For the St. Joseph School District, the time for all teachers to get vaccinated will have to wait. But Maria Burnham, district health coordinator, said 30% of the district’s staff fall into the current tier in Missouri and she is encouraging them to get vaccinated.
In a survey done by the district, about 60% of the staff said they would take the vaccine, Burnham said.