HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Governor Wolf announced on Wednesday that teachers will be fast-tracked to receive the COVID-19 vaccine this month. He said the goal is to get students back in the classroom as safely and as quickly as possible.
The Wolf Administration and its COVID-19 Task Force plan to designate more than 94,000 Johnson and Johnson vaccines, slated to arrive this week in Pennsylvania, for school staff. That includes everyone from teachers to janitors, to bus drivers in both public and private schools.
According to the governor, those who work with Pre-K, elementary students, students with disabilities, and students with English as a second language will be given priority in the first round of vaccines.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine will continue to be allocated to teachers and school employees until every educator has the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“We know that the educational losses that students have experienced over the past year are severe. And schools provide key support services for students and community beyond the classroom so it’s not just the learning gap that has occurred over the past year. There opportunities for behavioral support programs, we missed out on that. And access to nutritional meals, missed out on that,” the governor said.
The administration is also working with pharmacies to provide the vaccine to early childhood education workers and child care workers.
The state’s intermediate units will establish vaccination sites, with most locations opening up between the 10th and 13th of the month.
Wolf said everyone who’s already eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1A will remain in that group, but those vaccines continue to be in short supply.
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“Even if we were doing 100 percent, which we’re not. We need to do–we’re figuring out how to do better, but even if we were doing a perfect job, there still wouldn’t be enough vaccine, yet, to meet the demand, ” he said.
The governor added that the state can’t mandate that teachers who’ve received the vaccine must return to the classroom, but he said if you get a vaccine, you should be willing to go back to school to teach in person.