Teachers, high-risk Vermonters eligible for vaccine next week

With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine coming online and the federal pharmacy program ramping up, Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday that school staff, child care workers and more Vermonters with high-risk conditions would become eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine starting next week.

Phase 5 of the state’s vaccination program will open March 8, Scott said, which will include high-risk Vermonters aged 55 and over. Starting March 15, those with the same high-risk conditions aged 16 and over will become eligible. 

School staff and child care workers will also become eligible March 8, and can register for an appointment as soon as Friday. School-based vaccination clinics will deliver the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but school staff and child care workers will also be allowed to access the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines through the state’s partnership with Walgreens.

Administration officials said they expected to have all school staff vaccinated by the first weeks of April.

“These are important steps forward, and with more supply Vermonters can be optimistic that we’re on pace to be in a very good place by late spring or early summer,” Scott said.

The Scott administration has pressed local district officials to more fully reopen schools, and the governor has said he would like to see all K-12 students back in class five days a week sometime in April. Educators have responded that mitigation measures should not be relaxed without, at a minimum, additional protection for school staff and teachers. 

“Nobody wants to see students return to the state’s classrooms more than teachers, paraeducators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school nurses, and administrators. But, as we’ve said all along, this can only happen when it is demonstrably safe to do so. Vaccinating school employees is a big step in the right direction,” said Vermont-NEA president Don Tinney said in a statement.

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Addison County Independent