Where are teachers and students in the line to get a COVID vaccine?

January 2, 2021

While two FDA approved Covid-19 vaccines are being distributed in the US to healthcare workers and residents and staff at long term care facilities, many people are wondering where their place in line is to receive the vaccine.

The CDC is referring to the first group of frontline workers receiving the vaccine as “phase 1a”. Within the first couple months of the new year, they are hoping to move into “phase 1b”, which will consist of essential workers outside of the healthcare industry. 

There is some debate however about who should be in that group. Teachers’ unions around the country are advocating for teachers and school staff to be placed as a priority in that group.

Overall it’s up to the governors of the states to decide the distribution process in each state. Illinois has teachers in “phase 1b” with grocery store workers and first responders.

In an interview with ABC 7 News, Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers said, “if the goal is to get kids back to school as soon as possible, teachers should be on the priority list for a vaccine. It is up to the state on how to distribute the vaccines.”

However, even if teachers do get the vaccine within the next couple of months, it could still be many more months until every student is eligible to receive the vaccine. The current age requirement is 16 years old for the Pfizer vaccine, and 18 years old for the Moderna vaccine.

In November 2020, drug companies started testing the vaccine for children under the age of 16. According to the Wall Street Journal,  “Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech started testing their vaccine candidate in children 12 and older this fall. A Pfizer spokeswoman said they expect full safety and efficacy results for adolescents ages 12 to 17 in early 2021. They are working with regulators on a pediatric study plan for younger age groups which will potentially require a modified formulation or dosing schedule, she said.”

While the vaccine is being distributed nationally at the moment it may be a couple of months until teachers and students in our community start receiving the vaccine.

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