Teachers waiting on COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

MONROE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — There is still a lot of confusion over who can get a vaccine, and when we’ll move to the next phase of the vaccine plan.

This week, Alabama moved to a new phase of who can get the vaccine, allowing those 75 years of age and older and first responders to get vaccinated if they wanted.

Those two groups are listed in Phase 1B, but others in that group were confused at when they could get the shot.

“The biggest issue I’m seeing is the department isn’t really making it clear to everybody,” said Dr. Lee Salter, the Assistant Principal at C.P. Carmichael Alternative School.

Salter says he wants to get the COVID-19 vaccine for several reasons. “I actually was born with asthma,” Salter said. He continued, “On top of that I have an older mother and family and friends who are elderly as well. I would just hate for me to be the reason for them passing.”

He says he is also concerned with school being held in person, as teachers haven’t been vaccinated.

“My issue is, is it worth losing your life over? You know, all it takes is one person,” Salter said.

This week, the state announced they would begin a new phase of vaccinations. Salter went to two clinics to try and get vaccinated, only to be turned away both times.

“I went to a clinic on Monday because I thought I was in the 1B category only to be told it was only for 75 and older and first responders,” Salter said.

“We want teachers to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer.

Teachers are part of the Phase 1B category in the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Vaccine Plan, they’re listed in the footnote of that category. The same phase includes people 75 years of age and older and first responders.

But as of right now, the state is only allowing those 75 and older and first responders to get the vaccine.

“If we have to prioritize in that group, it’s expected they’ll be the next group up,” said Dr. Harris about teachers getting the vaccine.

There’s not enough vaccine to cover everyone.

“We have about 100 thousand educators in the state and we need 200 thousand doses to cover that population and right now, we’re still at only 500 thousand doses that we’re trying to cover the first 1.4 million doses we need for the current group,” Dr. Harris said.

Salter says he will continue to take precautions in the meantime.

“You need to worry about yourself and keeping you and your family healthy,” Salter said.

We reached out to the Alabama State Department of Education. They provided this statement: “Our teachers are in the frontline of defense and they are a huge part of the community and it’s important they get vaccinated. We’re glad they are considered a priority. We are encouraging teachers to get it once it’s available and we hope that will be as soon as possible.” They added they hope to put out more information sometime next week.

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