All teachers in U.S. can now get COVID-19 vaccine, though some states are slow to comply

when can teachers get covid vaccine
Photo via Josh Hallett/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

All K-12 educators throughout the U.S. are eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, as of March 8, but availability still varies from state to state. So yes, all teachers can get the COVID vaccine, but not all of them will have access quite yet.  

The New York Times reported that at least 38 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have already been vaccinating some of their school workers, while states like Texas and Massachusetts are just now getting up and running for educator vaccines. Last week, as Nautilus noted, President Joe Biden said he would use federal authority to get at least one dose of the COVID vaccine to “every educator, school staff member [and] child care worker” by the end of March. 

But not all states appear to be operating with the same sense of urgency Biden has called for to get all teachers the COVID vaccine. 

“A handful of states chose not to deviate from their rollout schedules, in most cases preferring an age-based approach to who gets the vaccine first,” the Times article stated. “State-run sites in those places have not yet opened up to all educators. But state-run sites are not the only option: Teachers in those states are now eligible for vaccine appointments at pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.”

In Massachusetts, where the state will open up vaccinations to teachers March 11, educators jumped at the opportunity to get vaccinated at CVS through the federal program. As CBS Boston reported, about 25,000 people self-identifying as teachers made appointments through CVS during the three-day span from March 10-12. That represented more than 70% of all vaccination appointments made at the pharmacy chain in the state during that time block. 

“Massachusetts was one of the fastest states to book appointments during the same three-day period, compared to the other 20 states where CVS Pharmacy is administering the vaccine,” the company said in a statement.

In Florida, the Publix grocery chain is moving to prioritize vaccines for teachers. As News4Jax in Jacksonville relayed, Publix began receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and “is shifting its focus to vaccinating people who work in education and related fields as part of the effort.” 

While Education Week still lists some states as not having the vaccine available in its running tally of where teachers can get vaccinated, it’s provided updates indicating that Missouri will be vaccinating school staff members starting March 15. South Dakotan educators can line up “sometime in March,” though an exact date has not yet been publicized.

“It has been frustrating,” said Keith Gambill, the president of Indiana’s teachers association, where state officials still have not established a starting date for teacher vaccinations. Still, some pharmacies in Indiana have begun vaccinating teachers and the Meijer grocery chain is preparing to open pop-up clinics around the state. 

Gambill noted that “the barriers facing teachers, from scheduling to geography, remain steep,” and as he told the Times, “The simplest version would have been to say all sites in Indiana will now be accepting educators as well.”

Read more on the coronavirus vaccine:

Sources: New York Times, CBS Boston, News4Jax, Education Week

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