Missouri behind 28 states in vaccinating teachers

Local News

Most of Missouri's bordering states hold school staff higher in vaccine priority

MISSOURI – In Missouri, teachers, faculty and staff are classified as Phase 1B, Tier 3 in the priority phases for vaccine distribution, same as food/agriculture, government and more.

Currently, Missouri is vaccinating Phase 1A and 1B, Tiers 1 and 2. But 28 states in the U.S. have already began vaccinating teachers and school staff, including most of Missouri’s surrounding states.

This is because school staff are higher up in vaccine priority in those states – which include Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa.

On Feb. 10, five Missouri Teacher of the Year winners sent a letter to Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, expressing the need for “immediate vaccination” among school staff.

“We are humbly writing on behalf of the tens of thousands of Missouri public educators anxiously awaiting protection against COVID-19. We ask you to prioritize Missouri school teachers and support staff for immediate vaccination,” states the letter.

The letter explains that teachers have stepped up and risked their lives this year, being exposed daily, but may not be getting “viral protection” before the end of the school year. 

It mentions that the “lowered safety precautions that many schools are now implementing” indicate an “even more pressing need for Missouri educators to receive higher prioritization to the vaccine.” 

Williams responded to the letter by saying that with the limited amount of the vaccine available, “we must prioritize those most vulnerable.” 

Then on Thursday, from the Missouri State Capitol, Williams said Missouri is not considering moving school staff up in priority for the vaccine.

“Those people who are more likely to get sick, and quite bluntly, pass away if they get Covid, continue to be our focus,” Williams said.

Carthage Jr. High teacher Jamie Lindsey believes that school staff should be made a higher priority in receiving the vaccine for the safety of students and their families.

“I think we should be moved up because we are in the frontline when it comes to being out and being around Covid,” said Lindsey. “I have 150 students everyday and if I were to be infected, even with masks on, we still have the potential of spreading it, so I think it’s important that we try to keep the kids safe and try to keep their families safe.”

Should Missouri school staff be moved up in priority in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine? When the time comes, should employers push for school staff to be vaccinated or should it remain optional? 

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