SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – People who work in schools and child care operations are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
After receiving a directive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, state health officials notified all vaccine providers that they should immediately include school and child care workers in the administration of vaccines.
Personnel in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs, including teachers, staff, and bus drivers, are now in the state’s priority categories for the coronavirus vaccine. Licensed child care providers also are eligible.
“This action does not change the other groups prioritized for vaccination in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner. “Providers are encouraged to continue their efforts to vaccinate older adults, since the burden of COVID-19 falls most severely on people age 65 and older.”
Local public health officials are urging the state to send more vaccines, especially since the priority categories now include teachers and school staff.
The Texas State Teachers Association welcomed the news.
“This is an important step to protecting the health and safety, not only of the educators, but the students and their families,” said TSTA spokesman Clay Robison.
He told KTSA News that the union had been asking the governor to put teachers in a prioritized category for the vaccines, but it didn’t happen until the Biden administration, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, directed states to expand vaccine eligibility Tuesday.
“Vaccinations for educators became even more crucial when the governor repealed the mask mandate,” said Robison.
The Texas Education Agency on Wednesday has issued new guidance in the wake of the governor’s decision to rescind the mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions March 10. TEA says schools should continue to require masks for those 10 years and older, but the decision lies with local school boards.
“We think many districts will continue to require the masks, but many districts, we fear, will not,” said Robison.
He’s urging teachers to continue wearing face coverings.