Some Alabama teachers receive COVID-19 vaccine

Some Alabama teachers receive COVID-19 vaccine
Teachers in some parts of Alabama have started receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

By Morgan Carlson| January 26, 2021

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Teachers in some parts of Alabama, including Tallassee, have started receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

All Tallassee City Schools employees were offered the COVID-19 vaccine last week, Superintendent Brock Nolin announced.

Nolin said the employees who opted to receive the vaccine were given the first dose on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at Community Hospital in Tallassee. The school district has about 200 employees.

Teachers aren’t included in the groups that currently qualify for the vaccine in Alabama, but State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris confirmed in a news conference Friday that teachers in some parts of the state had started receiving the vaccine.

“We’ve told all providers that Alabama is in this current phase and this is your priority group, but if you have vaccine available and you are making sufficient outreach and you’re communicating with other providers in your community, and there aren’t uncovered people in these priority groups who are seeking a vaccine, then they have the ability to touch these other groups if they can do that,” Harris said. “We mostly want to do that to make sure they’re not wasting vaccine or they don’t have vaccine on the shelf so I know some educators have already begun to receive that, and we don’t quarrel about that.”

Those who currently quality for the vaccine in Alabama are healthcare providers, residents of long-term care facilities, people who are 75 years old and older, police officers and firefighters.

Harris said ADPH wants teachers to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and it’s expected they will be in the next group.

“You know, it’s still the same numbers question, you know we have about 100,000 educators in the state, counting administrators and staff and day care staff, you know, as well as classroom teachers,” Harris said. “That’s 100,000 people. We need 200,000 doses to cover that population, and right now we still are at only 500,000 doses that we’re trying to cover the first 1.4 million doses we need for the current group.”

ADPH released this statement Tuesday about the allocation of vaccines in different parts of the state: “The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recognizes that some entities, who are COVID 19 vaccine providers, have largely completed their initial outreach according to the Vaccine Allocation Plan and, after eligible populations have either accepted or declined vaccine, moved forward to other groups.  Local communities may be in different phase of the Vaccine Allocation Plan based upon uptake of vaccine within the community.”

On Monday, Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Ann Roy Moore announced the school district would return to remote learning on Feb. 1, and it would continue until the vaccine was made available to MPS employees.

Last week, MPS announced the deaths of four teachers. The causes of death were not released, and MPS did not specify if they were related to COVID-19.

Following the deaths, the Alabama Education Association called on the school system and Moore to allow remote teaching and learning through February.

The Alabama Education Association applauded the decision to go virtual. In a statement, AEA President Sherry Tucker said, “While time out of the classroom is difficult, learning losses can be made up. Lives cannot be brought back when they are lost. With vaccines on the way, this is a reasonable, prudent step. My hope is that other superintendents will carefully examine the risks of continuing in-person instruction right now versus the benefit of waiting for their employees to be fully protected.”