When will mass vaccinations start for teachers?

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 11:32 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and the state’s top health officials met Thursday morning to continue talks on how to get more teachers access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are very concerned about the roll out. This is no criticism to public health on the matter,” said Dr. Mackey.

Alabama State Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey speaks at a press conference.
Alabama State Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey speaks at a press conference.

During Thursday’s school board meeting, Dr. Mackey confirmed teachers are still in the 1B group for COVID vaccinations - which includes people 75 years and older along with some frontline workers. But, they aren’t the priority when vaccination efforts start next week - noting the state is not getting enough medicine.

“Only getting about 50,000 doses a week,” said Dr. Mackey to the board. “If all our folks got the vaccine, it would take all of the vaccine available for the state of Alabama for a whole month and nobody else could get it.”

Dr. Mackey said it might be March before mass teacher vaccinations start, which could mean teachers won’t have the added COVID protection second semester.

“Then the second would come at the end of March or May. You don’t develop full immunity for 3 weeks after that. Which essentially means we’re not going to have our teachers vaccinated and immunized through this whole semester.”

Dr. Mackey said there are two measures that could change things. One - if health leaders approve what’s considered a promising new one-dose vaccine. Or if national health leaders decide to use people’s second COVID shot to vaccinate others in the distributors hurry to make more doses. He noted state health leaders said that’s not their ideal next step because of issues nationwide in distribution so far.

We have gotten questions about other teachers getting access to the vaccine while many wait. Dr. Mackey confirmed 2 counties in the state have vaccinated all the teachers in the area who wanted the vaccine, but he says that’s because the local hospital was ready to move to the next round of vaccinations which is OK’d by the state and leaders don’t want to waste vaccines.

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