Washington educators are now eligible to be vaccinated

Governor Jay Inslee moves educators and licensed childcare workers to Washington’s Phase 1B-1.
(Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with kindergartners in Chelsea Singh's class during a visit to Firgrove Elementary School in Puyallup, Wash., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Students are back in school and all teachers and students are wearing masks.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Earlier today, President Joe Biden assured the country that there would be enough vaccine doses to innoculate all American adults by the end of May. During that address, he urged state leaders to provide vaccinations for teachers, educators and school faculty. In response, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has cleared the state’s educators to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1-B1 of vaccinations.

The governor released a statement in response to the President’s remarks this afternoon:

“Like President Biden, I am grateful for the hard work and sacrifice of educators every day, and especially during this pandemic. The president has directed us to add preK-12 educators, school staff and licensed childcare workers to our current vaccine prioritization. This directive will be carried out through existing providers and the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which operates through national pharmacies and independent pharmacy chains.

“Therefore, we are adding educators and licensed childcare workers to Washington’s Phase 1B-1 immediately. The Washington State Department of Health will have more specific information soon on how those workers can access vaccines. Phase Finder may take time to reflect these changes, but educators and licensed childcare workers can schedule with providers right away.

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In recent weeks, Gov. Inslee and Washington Department of Health (DOH) officials have not only cleared school districts to plan their return, but encouraged them. This has been a point of contention for many educators throughout the state who want to return to classrooms but are afraid of getting sick.

During his directive, Biden stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of school staff as students return for in-person learning.

“As yet another move to help accelerate the safe reopening of schools, let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is. And that means getting essential workers who provide that service — educators, school staff, child care workers — get them vaccinated immediately. They’re essential workers,” President Biden said.

RELATED: Biden vows enough vaccine for all US adults by end of May

Vaccine distributions have increased steadily across the nation and in Washington state. Just today, the Benton County Fairgrounds mass vaccination site re-opened for first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. They received 6,000 doses for the week at this location alone with other doses being distributed at pharmacies and other local healthcare centers. In Yakima County, over 15,000 vaccine doses arrived this week including more than 11,000 first doses.

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