Nearly 80 percent of school staff members and child care workers have received at least a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, reinforcing President Joe Biden’s efforts to reopen schools closed due to the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that about 8 million teachers, school staff members and other child care workers had received their first doses by the end of March. A federal push to give these workers priority access to vaccines “paid off and paved the way” for a return to in-person education, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a news release.
“CDC will build on the success of this program and work with our partners to continue expanding our vaccination efforts, as we work to ensure confidence in COVID-19 vaccines,” said Walensky.
Biden was unable to tell state officials who to prioritize in their vaccine implementation programs, but his administration made clear that it wanted to put school staff members at the forefront to reopen schools. Fewer than half of the states included teachers in their first vaccination releases, Vice President Kamala Harris told NBC’s “TODAY” show in February.
“They should be able to teach in a safe place and expand the minds and opportunities of our children,” Harris said at the time. “Therefore, teachers should be a priority along with other front-line workers.”
A survey by the National Education Association released in February found that 70 percent of educators “would feel more confident working in person” if they were vaccinated.
Biden announced Tuesday that all adults in the US should be eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine by April 19. There will be no more confusing rules or restrictions, said Biden, who urged Americans to remain vigilant as vaccines are rolled out.
The virus is spreading because “we have too many people who see the end in sight” and “think we are already at the finish line,” Biden said. “Let me be deadly serious with you: we are not done.”
More than 168 million doses have been administered in the US and about 63 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data Tuesday afternoon.
NBC News has created a tool called Plan Your Vaccine to provide information on each state’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts as rollout spreads across the country.