Texas teachers, child care workers are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

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Texas teachers are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, health officials announced Wednesday.

Effectively among Texas vaccine providers, all Texas vaccine providers should include their school staff, head start program staff and child care staff in their vaccine administration programs, according to a notice sent to state health care providers of Texas State Health Services.

The notice came after the Biden administration on Tuesday urged all states to give priority to vaccinating teachers and school staff. Texas had not previously prioritized teachers. Texas received a letter Tuesday night from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services instructing it to increase eligibility, according to a DSHS news release.

It qualifies “those who work in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff and bus drivers) and those who act as or for licensed child care providers, Including center-based and family care providers ”, according to federal directives.

State health officials said earlier this week that they would end vaccinating the elderly and most vulnerable Texans in the next few weeks and expect to expand the eligibility to include more Texans by the end of the month.

The new group was expected to include teachers before Wednesday’s announcement, but officials did not say who else would be in the new “1C” group.

Health officials said the 1A and 1B priority groups included more than 8 million people, including front-line health care workers, people aged 65 and over, and medical vulnerabilities aged 16 or older.

The initial inclusion of teachers comes on the vaccine supply ramp and 2 million people, or 6.8% of Texas population, have been fully vaccinated with both doses of the two-shot regime.

The administration of the newly approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose, began in Texas this week, officials said.

As of March 1, providers across the state were administering an average of 123,469 vaccine doses per day in the past week, with 5..7 million doses administered. No vaccine is allowed for children under 16, who make up about 23% of the population.

The supply of the vaccine is still far below both the demand and the number of people eligible to receive it.

The decision comes a day after the government took office. Greg Abbott announced that he would reopen and release the long-running mask command. Many school officials were unprepared for Abbott’s decision. Texas public schools still require masks until the local school board decides to make them optional, the Texas Education Agency announced Wednesday.

Teachers and advocates are urging the state to include teachers in bringing a vaccination program to you this winter and spring. After Abbott’s announcement on Tuesday, several teacher groups punished him for eliminating the need for masks without prioritizing teachers for the vaccine.

“Bot has a responsibility to stick to medical advice and to clarify what needs to be done to keep our schools safe. Jeff Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement Tuesday that every senior health official has stressed that despite vaccinations we need to use the simplest tools to prevent the spread.

In response to Biden’s announcement, CVS Pharmacy has made appointments available to teachers, school staff and child care workers in Texas and other states where it provides vaccines.

CVS is part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, a collaboration between the federal government, states and pharmacies across the country.

Karen Brooks Harper contributes to this report.

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