Massachusetts teachers demand update on K-12 teacher vaccinations

BOSTON — Teachers across the Commonwealth are demanding an update from Governor Baker about when teachers will be eligible for the vaccine.

President Joe Biden has directed states to prioritize all K-12 teachers for their first dose during the month of March.

Biden said the federal government will help in the effort through its partnership with retail pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.

Tuesday’s announcement came before a meeting that had already been planned by the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

“The timing couldn’t have been better because we were there to talk about how to turn up the pressure on Governor Baker to get us vaccinated,” said Merrie Najimy, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Some or all teachers in 34 other states are already eligible for the vaccine.

Teachers are in the next eligible vaccination group in Massachusetts, but there’s still uncertainty as to when that will get underway. On Wednesday morning, the CVS vaccine scheduling site listed Massachusetts teachers in kindergarten through twelfth grade, along with day care and preschool workers and staff, as eligible to get the vaccine. Appointments appeared to be fully booked at 5:30 a.m. CVS is one of the participating pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

“We don’t even have an estimated date of when the next phase will start,” said Jessica Tang, President of the Boston Teachers Union. “We really hope this will be an additional push that will enable them to say, yes, here’s the date we can start vaccinating educators.”

The decision from Massachusetts officials to not put teachers higher on the priority list has been at the center of a heated on-going debate.

It’s forced districts to weigh the health risks of in-person learning versus the educational ramifications of remote learning.

“You can’t expect teachers to go into schools where there’s a virus that could kill us and not be vaccinated,” said John King, a 6th grade science teacher at Wang Middle School in Lowell.

King told Boston 25 News he was able to get his first dose last week due to two qualifying medical conditions.

However, he said she’s worried about all of his fellow teachers across the state who aren’t yet eligible.

“I certainly hope this will give the state a push to value teachers as front line workers,” added King. “Without that shot, those people should not be in the building.”

Boston 25 News reached out to Governor Baker’s office for comment on President Biden’s directive but have not yet heard back.

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