In the second half of Tuesday, Gov. Ayse Insley said educators licensed child care workers could immediately seek out doses of COVID-19 vaccine under new instructions from the federal government.
“Teachers երեխաների licensed childcare workers can plan directly with providers,” said Insley in a statement.
President Biden on Tuesday instructed governors to open access for educators and child care workers. He also announced that the federal supply of vaccines would be expanded by the end of May in doses available to all adult Americans.
The president’s statement promises to accelerate the spread of vaccines in Washington state, which has recently been hampered by the delivery of mostly slow doses. It will also help open schools. However, the decision changes state vaccination priorities, leaving some workers at higher risk by watching educators queue up.
“We will continue our current government programs and goals, focusing on the most at-risk groups, including older adults and those with the most gaps,” said Insley.
“To that end, I will announce soon when our state vaccination priorities will be shifted to include key workers in some public places, including those who work in grocery stores, farm workers, food processors, bus drivers, correctional workers, and others.”
Promises of new federal supplies and vaccine availability will put new pressure on the state’s newly built mass vaccination infrastructure.
In January, government officials set a target of 45,000 vaccines a day nationwide, hoping to protect about 70 percent of Washington’s adult population by the end of the summer. Now Biden has promised to shoot all the adults by the end of May.
Vaccine suppliers vaccinated 37,481 people daily in late February, according to a seven-day average reported by the state COVID-19 data control panel.
Biden’s statement comes in response to months of calls from teachers’ unions across the country who advocate for pediatric vaccination before teaching in person.
Washington state school districts are among the slowest in the country to reopen to wider students as they are closed to labor negotiations. Vaccines are not the only issue on the bargaining table in these districts, but education officials have been hoping for the news.
“This should bring a great sense of relief to educators who have worked in person for weeks or months,” said Larry Delaney, president of the Washington Education Association and the State Teachers Association. “For those who are still working with their neighborhoods to return to classes as safely as possible, this powerful layer of protection, when proposed in conjunction with the CDC, the Department of Health’s Department of Industry’s safety requirements, should help build trust. ություն Confidence in returning to personalized learning. ”
Last week, a group of Seattle lawmakers tried to lobby state city officials to expedite the pedagogical process as Seattle Public Schools and its teachers’ union remained stalled over reopening.
“Ah, man, this is a fairy tale,” said Gary Polett, D-Seattle, a spokesman for the state, when he learned of Biden’s order. “This is optimistic news.”
Inslee և Other government officials have acknowledged the need to vaccinate teachers, but have not heeded lawyers’ calls for teachers to be given priority. Washington Schools employs about 153,000 adults, including some 68,000 teachers.
The availability of more vaccines could speed up the return of students to school buildings, say state education officials. Only 30% of the state’s schoolchildren currently study in person.
In January, the state announced a partnership with Kaiser Permanente to help educators avoid long waits for vaccine prescriptions by setting up additional vaccine sites near or near school universities. It is unclear how the state program will interact with the federal government program to offer doses through the pedagogical retail pharmacy program.
“We’re meeting with the state’s health department tomorrow morning to see how this affects our state, but other than what President Biden has disseminated, we know nothing,” said Katie Payne, spokeswoman for the Office of Public Instruction.
The directive raises concerns that other front-line workers in Washington may be on the priority list.
Workers in the food industry sank as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks, which grew on offshore plant vessels and offshore processing plants. At risk are farmers, food processors who harvest and process the state crop.
Employers in both groups have fought for Washington state to pay more attention to vaccinating these workers.
Eric Nicholson, a Sunni agricultural consultant in Washington, D.C., said he hoped all agricultural workers and food processors could be vaccinated within a few weeks.
“We tried hard to raise the villagers, we prevailed,” Nicholson said. “Now the question is how far behind they are from the list.”
Some farms are already bringing pruning and wintering guests from Mexico and other countries under the H-2A Temporary Visa Program. All of these workers are currently being screened for the virus before they can be placed in labor camps to begin work. But they still need to be vaccinated, according to Dan Fazio, executive director of the Washington Farm Workers’ Association (WAFLA), which supports the recruitment of those workers.
“They live in collective houses. That is why it is very important that we vaccinate them, “said Fazio. “The boys have friends and relatives here. If they visit them, they can bring back the virus.”
Food workers who frequently interact with members of the public will also step back.
“We clashed. “I know this group was looking forward to their vaccination,” said Tammy Hatrick, president of the Washington Food Industry Association. “I also understand sending children back to school.”
In January, Seattle City Council passed legislation requiring department stores to pay $ 4 an hour for wages to pay for the risk. Hattrick thwarted the idea that traders would be required by the government to pay extra because they were now waiting for vaccinated workers to be pushed back.
“If you are going to claim that we are a dangerous industry and demand a risk payment, then do something about it,” said Hattrick, who added that “shops are quite safe.” Last month, the food industry sued Seattle over legislation.
Breaking National correspondent Joseph O’Sullivan contributed to this report.