Teachers Concerned About Lack Of Vaccinations Ahead Of Return To In-Person Learning

Tuesday, January 12th 2021, 5:21 pm
By: Hunter McKee

As teachers and students begin their return to the classroom, local health departments are continuing to vaccinate those in the state’s second phase of the distribution plan, but teachers under the age of 65 aren’t eligible to get their shot yet.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said pre-K through 12th grade teachers and staff are in the second phase of the vaccine plan. 

However, only teachers over the age of 65 qualify to get their vaccine at this time. Some educators say with the spring semester upon us, it's not enough.

“We’re worried," said Alicia Priest with the Oklahoma Education Association. “We’ve lost a number of educators this year already to COVID.”

Priest said the lack of vaccinations in local schools isn't only concerning for teachers, but for students and staff.

“So, imagine if you’re a bus driver and you are in that in-closed space with 60 plus students,” said Priest. “There’s no way to social distance.”

The state deputy health commissioner said he's not sure when all teachers will be able to get an appointment, but they are following the state's phased rollout.

“So incrementally, we’re going to be able to get some of our most at risk in the teacher core,” said Keith Reed with the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Hopefully, sooner rather than later we’re going to be able to get all teachers vaccinated.”

According to the state Department of Education, more than 2,600 certified educators are 65 and older. Though there are still several teachers who haven't been vaccinated, some said this is still a step in the right direction.

“The vaccine is really our hope of turning the corner and getting back to some sense of normalcy and we have a lot of work to do,” said Shawn Hime, director of the Oklahoma State Board Association.