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CDC vaccine plan deems teachers ‘frontline essential workers,’ but some instructors hesitant

Florida teachers union asks DeSantis to make educators priority for COVID-19 vaccine
Florida teachers union asks DeSantis to make educators priority for COVID-19 vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has approved another step in the distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccines, categorizing firefighters, police, grocers and teachers as “frontline essential workers.”

The plan, which the committee approved Sunday by a 13-1 vote, defines frontline essential workers as “workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.”

Those people will be prioritized in phase 1b, along with people 75 and older. Phase 1c will include anyone between the ages of 65 and 74, as well as those 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions.

CDC: teachers are essential workers
CDC: teachers are essential workers

Frontline essential workers:

  • First responders (firefighters, police officers)
  • Education (teachers, support staff, daycare)
  • Food & agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Corrections workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices information graphic included as part of a presentation on Dec. 20, 2020. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The full presentation from Sunday’s ACIP meeting can be viewed by following this link.

In Northeast Florida, not all educators are on board with the vaccines, with several telling News4Jax they want to wait for more research or additional testing.

“I am pro-vaccinations, but not willing to take the risk yet,” said Duval County teacher Brianna Hubbard. “I will not be taking this vaccine until it’s been around longer, has had more research conducted, and I am sure that it is safe.”

“I agree with the typical childhood vaccines received and have nothing against the flu vaccine,” said another teacher, who asked to remain anonymous. “However, I would not take the COVID-19 vaccine, especially because it is too new. It is too soon for a vaccine.”

For other teachers, like Mandarin Middle School teacher Lori Bishop, the vaccine can’t come soon enough.

“I get the flu shot every year because I do work with so many different people and it’s better for me,” said Bishop. “I feel like it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Bishop said there’s a chance that she’s already been vaccinated, as she participated in one of Pfizer’s clinical trials in August.

“So there’s a possibility that I’ve already gotten the Pfizer vaccine,” Bishop said. “I don’t know yet whether I was got a placebo or whether I got the actual vaccine, but I’m hoping to find out in the next few days. I don’t have any hesitation.”

The ACIP meeting came just days after Florida’s largest teachers union asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to prioritize school employees for COVID-19 vaccinations.


About the Author:

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.