By Randi Hildreth| January 28, 2021
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Education union leaders are pushing the state to act more quickly in distributing the COVID vaccine as they get more reports of teachers dying from COVID.
St. Clair County teachers started the vaccine process Wednesday thanks to efforts by local pharmacies. Superintendent Mike Howard says about 500 of the district employees opted to get the shot.
“It doesn’t eliminate the risk, but the exposure piece is what we’re struggling with the most as a school district,” said Howard.
Education Union Leaders applaud counties that started the process and urge state leaders to move faster with a widespread rollout.
“My concern to Dr. Harris is that we need to make educators a priority,” said Theron Stokes, Associate Executive Director for the Alabama Education Association:
Union leaders put those concerns on paper in a letter to the state. Leaders say although Alabama started the 1B vaccine phase, which includes school staff, they’re at the back of that line.
But state leaders maintain teachers are priority.
“The message we’re trying to communicate to people is that even though we believe everyone deserves to be vaccinated and we will proceed with adding extra people. there’s not additional vaccine,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
Union leaders say they understand supply chain issues but believe when the state gets doses they should reconsider vaccine distributions because there are districts like Birmingham City Schools that reported losing staff to COVID and systems like Montgomery Public Schools where four staff members died within 48 hours.
“Once educators start dying it’s important for some action to be taken,” said Stokes.
The state’s top health officer said he expects the state will get a slight increase in doses available over the next few weeks and he expects to release new information by the end of this week on the vaccine distribution plan.
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