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PA Teachers Praise Vaccination Plan

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Teachers said prioritizing vaccinations for school staff is essential to providing the best education for students and keeping the community safe. (David Gales/Adobe Stock)
Teachers said prioritizing vaccinations for school staff is essential to providing the best education for students and keeping the community safe. (David Gales/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA - Producer, Contact
March 4, 2021

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The union representing more than 170,000 school employees is praising a new vaccination plan that will make returning to in-person instruction safer for school staff, students and communities.

Pennsylvania's bipartisan COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force has approved a plan designating more than 94,000 doses of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine for school staff members.

Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), said it will be a big boost for the entire state's recovery from the pandemic.

"Making the vaccine available to school staff is a key step to getting more students back in the classroom, more parents back to work without worry, and our economy back on track," Askey stated.

The plan will make the vaccine available not only to teachers but to everyone working in the school system including secretaries, maintenance staff and school bus drivers.

Askey noted the initial designation of 94,600 doses of the vaccine isn't quite enough to do the whole job. But he pointed out the rapid expansion of vaccine supply means more shots will be coming in the next few weeks.

"So I think the governor's goal to get all public-school and private-school employees vaccinated by the first week of April, that's a doable plan," Askey agreed.

With intermediate vaccination units being set up across the state, he believes school employees could start getting their shots in about a week.

Deciding to get vaccinated is an individual choice, and Askey encouraged those who are concerned about its safety to speak with their doctors. But he added an overwhelming number of PSEA members have been asking for access to the vaccines.

"Our members know the importance of safety, know the importance that a vaccination makes in making our schools safer, so I'm happy to encourage everyone to go get their shot because I sure plan on doing that," Askey stressed.

He credited Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers on the Joint Task Force for taking swift action to support education in Pennsylvania by making schools and their staff safer.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania State Education Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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